Look Both Ways

Look right, left and right again before crossing. Unless you’re in a country where they drive on the right, in which case look left, right and left again. If you don’t know what country you’re in or which side they drive on, always go walking barefoot and someone will help you.

Photo: Two black shoes beside a kerb

Santo Niño of Sudbury Hill

Not Inniskeen Road but it’s fine.
Around the block, two women talk
while a slow old dog contemplates
a garden wall. Good morning.

It’s sunny, I feel carefree, elated.
Next to the lane, a fellow walking,
mask half-mast. I’ve seen him before
but never talked. Good morning.

I cross the railway bridge, all trees
in September glory, fading greenly.
Then by Orley Farm, another known
unknown man, weary. Good morning.

Before I turn for home, here’s wheeling
into South Vale, a mum on her phone.
Her small boy sits smiling ahead like Jesus
from a two-child stroller. Good morning.

Photo: Quiet suburban street, Harrow

Outtakes from Knots

You’re bad at everything you do
and not only that, you’re a bad son,
a bad father, a bad husband
and you know there are bad things
you’ve done, tried to forget but
you are arrogant, old and ugly
and you can’t say anything about it
because hey! it’s not all about you.

If you think you’re good, you’re no good.
If you think you’re no good, you’re no good.
If you don’t think, you’re no good.
If you think, you think you’re no good.
You’re no good.

I can’t do all the important things I want to do
because I have to do the most important thing I have to do
which I can’t do because I’m so worried about
all the other important things that I can’t do
because I have to do the most important thing that I can’t do
and so I do nothing.

It doesn’t matter that there’s no point to anything,
because if there’s no point to anything then nothing matters,
and it doesn’t matter that nothing matters
because if nothing matters then it doesn’t matter
that nothing matters.

Photo: Ebike outside HMP Wormwood Scrubs

Snowdonia from the Boat Train

On the train from Holyhead
I looked and thought the world
doesn’t need me to describe
sheep in the turned turnip fields,
sheep on a frozen hillside,
doesn’t need to imagine
that snow clouds are like smoke
from a frozen explosion,
has no time or wish to know –
when the sun began to dance,
over the far white mountains
it was dancing and licking,
like a small dog full of joy,
at the face of a returning boy.

Photo: Two Lambs at Trigonos, Nantlle Valley

Country Sayings

  • Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.
  • Winter don woollies lest freeze thy goolies.
  • Spring deceives with shivering leaves.
  • Wear double socks for March is the pox.
  • April defreeze believe when thou sees.
  • Summer’s blink and summer’s gone.
  • Autumn be my friend, autumn never end.

Photo: Yours Truly at Portmarnock beach, Co. Dublin


August in Hammersmith/You don’t know who you’re with.
— Robyn Hitchcock

Ecru muslin cleaves to the bum,
Or ever shorter shorts for some.
Three aquiline ectomorphs all smile.
Sister, brother, other? Meanwhile
It’s always time to be young, no
Even with brave scooter kids in tow
Who know the green cross code. Oh
They must know! Okay, they know.

Outside A and E, a nurse in scrubs
Says “I’ll take you back into hospital.”
Bent double on a half wall, blood
On his forehead, nodding, frail,
An ill-shod man, won’t hear or agree.
Half a mile on, another bent double,
Frail, on a low bench, tapping his knee.
Some of us are in trouble.

Summer is distracted, letting itself go,
Can’t be bothered to put on a show.

Thunder from the buildout of King Street
Is not Jehovah’s p.a. The news sheet
Today is on capitalism and class war.
Apparently the pandemic is…blah blah blah.
Outside the Lyric Theatre, ineffectual
Leafletters pine for the intellectual.
While dad-bellied, a shirtless old get
Hugs himself like he’s only just met.

Photo: Butterfly outside Charing Cross Hospital

If You Stop Thinking

If you stop thinking,
Everything is primal shapes,
Circle, triangle, a blur,
Even colours evaporate.

You’ll have beginners’ luck
In every game you play,
Type at light speed, outrun
Sonic boom and radio waves,

Fly to Tasmania and back
On a bird that’s a factory,
An altar bell, a blackboard,
All in the flash of a blind eye.

Photo: Partial arcs and patterns of items on a table viewed from above

Now We Are Trees

Let’s not be self-conscious,
You and I are only trees
In the woods and in the street.
The real people love us.

Yes, we may be out-of-shape,
“As a tree grows, so shall it fall.”
But let me look at you, stand tall.
You are my noontime shade.

Photo: Woodland path, public bridleway, Sudbury Hill

Every Morning is a One-Armed Bandit

Every morning is a one-armed bandit,
Two lemons the first pee is not red,
Only nudges away, heart attack, stroke.
Some say quit while you’re ahead.
Places along the row stand empty now,
June lost her mind. Anna followed Peter.
A woman I only know to see is always smoking outside.

Photo: Self-portrait. “Bearded in his den”