Stones, banked up
by the sea’s edge.

children stumble along them,
buckets clutched  in hand,

 seek the secret stones
that glitter with crystal,

red stones veined with iron,
yellow and white striped stones

shaped like a wave,
green stones, covered in algae,

magic stones,
holed right through

or chalk white stones
imprinted with the echo

of a sponge that died
when the Sun was young;

a treasury of stones,
as abundant as apples

who lie quiet in the moon’s silver
at midnight’s low tide,

were hurled like bubbles
in shaken bottle;

tumbled smooth as glass
by a winter’s storm.

These stones to be washed
in a pink plastic bucket,

placed on slate step
to gleam in the sun.

They lie silent,
mute as bone,

but speak
a fantasia

in a child’s
open palm.


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Plastic Castle and an Orange

A boy built a castle from lego.
Soldiers manned its ramparts,
tapestries hung on the walls but
the King was absent and
the draw bridge drawn.

My friend, as I tell you this,
let me offer you an orange,
not to quench your thirst
but so you may taste Seville,
the Orange groves and citrus leaves
you picture may be
quite unlike
the cropsprayed rows
that grow waist high
for miles,
attended to by a bored man
in a straw hat and a stained check shirt
on a mechanical fruitshaker.

The juice will quench your thirst
either way
and the tree did blossom,
insecticide laced farms
may ring with
silent guitars that no one
hears but you.

and an old man did leave the village
and walked all the way to Malaga
by the motorway, by the white apartments
and cranes
and was never recognised as the King
of a plastic castle.

The gift is yours,
if you choose to take it.

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Drunk at his mother’s funeral

formally “RD Laing’s Mother’s Funeral”

For RD Laing

he wept at his mother’s funeral
crying wracking tears at the fact
he had hated her and that his last
letter to her had been a pen drawn heart with
“i promise” inside in response to her request
he promise to never contact her again.

he took his son to look at the body but
they were so lashed on whisky
and chaos they couldn’t get the lid back on.

He had been so raw and so clever
he cut himself, saw beyond the
smiling faces of the doctors
to the iron mask beneath
that watched with iron eyes
the removal of parts of the brain
the administration of electric shocks
the injection of drugs and straightjackets
and pushed on into madness

He had emerged from the other side of
the abyss of psychoanalytical
black shoes smart ties
and cold benevolence to a
thicket of radical ideas
where madness is permitted
because it exists and is
the mind

to a place where the mind does
not matter, just breath and belly

and from there back to whisky and faded glory.

Perhaps he felt his mother was one
of those cold fish who would never understand.

If he knew, he would tell you,
if he could turn you on….

…the vomit by the coffin
mixed with tears and regret.

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Broken Glass and the Sea

One night,
Elliot Tanner
got wrecked on
a bottle of Pernod
he had stolen
from his mother’s
drinks cabinet.

He took the bottle
down to the beach
met up with Stuart
and they threw stones
at it when they’d
blind drunk
and mostly missing
until one
lucky throw
smashed the glass
into a thousand

Next day,
families herded
their kids
shattered glass
and puke
dog walkers
put their
dogs on leads.

That night,
the high tide
swept in and
folded the shards
into its
salt green body,
washed away
the vomit,
licked the stones

Now, when
children scour
the stones
they sometimes find
rare pieces
of emerald glass
smoothed and polished
glinting in the sun
the grey and white

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Stone angel on the harbour wall
gazes blindly at the mermaid on the rock,
can’t see his own body decorated
with cigarette burn
and lichen.

A trawler approaches
in a diesel cloud
sloppy with sardines,

The fishermen are boys
full of energy
who mock each other,
laughing loudly.

As 2 wrestle on the deck,
a thirdcups a roll up
against the spray
and salt and stares into the
fathomless deep.
At the boat’s prow a green horse,
at the stern, wooden steps
invite him to stroll
into the ocean
so his corpse can become a doll
on the sea bed for
mermaids to kiss.

Our mermaid watches
the men on the boat intently,
with methodical calm.
She smokes a cigarette,
and lies on her back

as their bare chest
flash in the sun.
She looks closely at
the young man who
stares into the sea
as if longing for its depth.

The  stone angel looks
blindly at the mermaid,
head tilted as if
he might hear
what he can’t see.


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poem for sugar

the gods have come to earth, they are not
celestial or angelic. they have snotty noses
and won’t do what they are told. they stomp
about and destroy cities, eat too much chocolate
and refuse to listen to reason. they are highly
excitable and love stories and music. they
demand as many as you can tell, they love
to be given presents. they love wearing
brightly coloured clothes, anything that
is shining gold, hot pink, vivid blue. they
will rip you apart if you don’t give them what
they want, chop your head off, pull your guts
out with a spoon, eat your heart. yet they
are capable of acts of incredible warmth and love,
and there is something touching about their
pyschopathic naivity. they love to be told stories
about themselves especially, ones in which
they kill giants and find treasure. they get very
taken with such stories and interrupt and want to
argue with the characters or act them out with puppets.
they don’t like to play the bad guy.

you have to put them to bed at night and they don’t want to go.
they demand songs and prayers and more stories. but once they
settle, and you see them falling into a deep and guiltless sleep, you realise how much you love them.

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