Once Bright Skates.

Figure skates on scratched ice

I recommend the catharticism of writing. Somehow to get thoughts and ideas expressed in words, exploring feelings, playing with sounds and structure, is very satisfying. Was having a bit of a dark day when I wrote this:

At the beginning there was
screaming, and crying, and stretching.
Unbelievable stretching.
You believed you were elastic.
But that was a lie.
We all discover that,

You were flush and moist,
tendons awash,
joints synovially oiled.
You glided like
an ice skater.
It was all
so easy.

But now cracks appear.
Your once bright skates
catch and judder.
crashing down.
When did your body forget how?

Weights which once seemed,
in your novice view,
were, in reality, light.
You see that now.
You sag from

There is only one burden
left to bear.


Fish of Choice

salmon swim upstream

I had salmon for dinner the other night. It got me thinking …

Fish of Choice.

If I was a salmon, a Pacific one I’d be,
My favourite is a sockeye, jumping masterful and free.
See my gorgeous colours, my cloak of vibrant red.
I’m all dressed up for spawning, and then I will be dead.

Wait. Did you say dead?

But I’m the king of all fish, I’m royalty you know.
Admirers line the wet banks eager for my show.
See that furry fellow, reaching for my tail,
Roaring as his sharp claws gash my regal scales.

Wait. Did you say claws?

Perhaps a farm is safer, a Norwegian one maybe,
The fjords look so peaceful, no bears to bother me.
No semelparous reflex, no pre-ordained death-age,
I’ll end my days a’swimming in a metal cage.

Wait. In a metal cage?

Unblinking eyes can see there’s a choice between the two –
A risky life with freedom, or tame one in a mew.
Magnetic nature calls me to soar above the spray,
Take pleasure in my liberty and live my life today.

No more waiting.

Ghosts of Puglia.

Dead olive trees in the countryside of Ugento, in Salento. Entire swathes of the region now look like an eerie cemetery of desiccated trees, some of which had stood for centuries if not thousands of years. János Chialá / The National

My neighbour’s greenhouse plants are
draped in gauze.
A shroud for those alive,
not those which have passed on.
The sky’s bright bulb no longer warms.

Nearly naked trees remind me of
south Italy and olive trees
wrecked with blight –
more shocking in scale and view
than any English winter field.

As my fingers chill and pale
I try to breathe life
back into a memory –
revive the warmth of one September,
and the soft Puglian light.

To feel again sun-numbed,
my brain afloat, thoughts adrift, body fixed.
To see the breeze pulling at a coloured towel,
And hear a swimmer
gasping at late summer’s air.

Beyond a drystone wall stand
a chorus line of olive trees –
their giant heads of pompoms shaking
and shimmering
with their silvr’y lights.

I hope they still dance, shaking their leaves,
and pray the naked rictus walk of fellow trees
does not invade from southern fields
where limbs are stripped
and bones are bare.