Friday, September 18, 2009

I Never Saw a Wild Thing

after DHLawrence

Clearly out-of-it in some way
a wasp goes through the motions;
stumbles around the rim or
homes in on my sweet beer breath.
Wafted away it stalls, falls off the air
clumsy to the table, too weak to evade;
to programme the usual lines of code
but she walks into a spec of sweet.
And like an idea dawning on a human face,
Babbage’s last tumblers falling into place,
the sweet seems to select a sequence – nest.
She turns, clock-wise, aligns to the light,
rolls a cold sun like a solitary bearing
to shine down the funnel of a compound eye:
checks angle, declination, wind
then casts away on to the wing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Winded words: “What
what what where?”
subside to sleep
and wake as “want
want want”.

Upper and lower lip pluck.
“Yes yes yes” you say;
your language, drawing in,
receives another word:
“Gala, Gala”.

In a small corner of the universe
one who comprehends has arrived;
a spec of graphite in the lubrication
on a ball bearing in a roundabout at the fair.

[The celebration of the birth of a child into the universe. Gala being the Greek origin of the word milk and so our galaxy the Milky Way. Also of the milk as the baby is put to the breast and begins to develop the oral capacity for language; sucking and swallowing being pre-linguistic skills. And then gala is also linked to celebration with the image of our galaxy as a fairground ride and gala as a celebration with us microscopic carbon based life forms as its lubrication.]

A Sense of Place

Attwood Street
A third of a mile separates where
you were born from where you live now:
in between, The Mount - of your youth -
visible from both. Marriage and motherhood
took you a mile and a half out of town;
but you are back within your horizons
and you pray each day to stay.
Thirty Seven Attwood Street, is gone;
all new flats. And a now too stiff climb
would take you on up to Whitehill.
Across the Cheshire Plain the view you showed me
still reaches to the Welsh Hills and, out there, a year my elder,
Jodrell Bank scans the heavens on your behalf.

The Mount
The Laburnum sapling planted at Long Row
to remind you of Number Two - The Mount,
has not thrived: a bad graft onto poor root stock,
planted through thin mulch into sub-soil spoil;
though of course a better gift than none at all:
family ties trying to buy you time; buy back
the dark laburnum bark blackened with acrid soot
risen from the Loop-Line cutting culled at Beeching,
the Birchen Wood pit and gas factory
and from every coal fed chimney that signified ‘home’:
The mature tree of our separate memories:
mine the rough scramble up the trunk
to catch a view of trains, and yours
the ‘happy’, now ever-flowering yellow blossom
that, greets your home-coming memory.

Long Row
The old Long Row’s long gone but none the worse
for being replaced by bungalows; though you
all joke across the fences that it’s dead man’s
shoes to get a place. And I keep a straight face
at first, wrong footed by your deadpan delivery,
before a creeping smile; permission to laugh.
Not like you to pull my leg these days
but I feel warm, like you’ve just told me that
I’ll catch chin-cough for sitting on
cold quarry tiles. And I smile but can’t catch
the laughter that ripples down the row.
Is it that I don’t know or that I don’t want
to know what only the companionship of widows
can know.

Happy Shriney

True, I don’t much visit your grave to place flowers
and ponder on your mouldering remains;
the dead plot of earth,
the standing stone
and chiselled Roman script.
You could’ve carved that in your sleep.
And with one hand tied behind your back;
so to speak.

But maybe if the stone was an old packet of Park Drive filterless fags;
red and white with its curly, cursive writing and silver paper slips.
And maybe if this bench was the back seat from your old Hilman Minx;
smelling of leather, trumping and squeaking to an eight year old’s pleasure
and the pewter pot was your old golf bag with its clatter of clubs
and the celestial music was Riding Down From Bangor on your old guitar
and maybe if they made a pergola like your yellow Isetta Bubble Car

with its engine loud enough to wake the dead.
Maybe if they livened this place up a bit,
then maybe instead it could offer me more, more than I have;
more maybe than I already carry ‘round in my head.


You must now
gently rub away your whore’s knees with the pumice,
style your hair and dress to please yourself.

No longer proxy to a brood of other mothers.
No kneeling, prostrate to their progeny,
cleaning the shitty little bottoms and
sending them home with something for Mummy.

So style your hair and dress to please yourself.
Ease the years from around your eyes.

You must now
Look to yourself.


I remember the night that the wasps came in;
the laudanum hum stirring the cup of my still sleeping ear;
funnelled air thrummed analog onto membrane drum,
signalling the switch to nervous sense;
scrambling for purchase; hovering beyond consciousness;
searching for meaning in the heavy eddy of memory.
Then, sudden and stark, I see, inside closed lids;
through walls, through doors, through thick air:
‘The wasps are in.’

Awake, and the baby between us stirs.
Another in the cot breathes and turns.
I slide my feet to the floor. The door,
ajar, fans a wedge of light across the wall;

light that – I have seen - at its source is drawing them to its core;
misdirected, missing the moon or beacon star that would guide them in.
I have seen the light and thickly pleated red silk shade;
the melee of muddled exhaustion and fresh attack, hard hitting
the heat, flaring parabolic, looping out and back, back to beat
themselves to death or until the greater light relights the open window.

As I finger open the door, second sight confirms the scene.
Too stark in painful sight I shade my eyes and stoop, commando,
to exit under stinging blades, crouched beneath the downdraft,
arm crooked up to ward off blows.
The shading hand now shields the nape of my neck,
which senses the sound and creeps the antenna of my spine.
Suddenly, gooseflesh. Every hair traps the air around me
bristling, vestigial, to my defence, raising a field of archers;
hackles taut and longbows drawn in primal fear of pain and poison.

A second kick of chemistry conspires to stir me,
my heart beating as their queen throbs at the heart of her nest.
In the pit of my stomach the drones are nervous as the heat of the hive
is lost. My cold sweat and wide eyes place the hive-mind on full alert;
tense to fight or flee. And I have left my babies asleep with their mother.

Down unfamiliar stairs, in breach of all codes,
intense with purpose, I tear open doors and
reaching into strange cupboards I gut them of their
useless viscera, until my hand finds, rough and rusty,
an old can of Raid. Clearly there has been little
appetite for insecticide in this house for a generation.

In a moment of perfect bliss I fly
Without thought or mind, except for me and mine,
to release the paralysing mist;
without hate or heart or compassion;
too late for second thoughts
of first do no harm.

A supercharged cloud spits, predetermined and exponential,
pitting chaos against disarray. Aerosol droplets out-swarm
the swarm and in suspension, molecule for molecule,
supersaturate the available oxygen, fouling spiracle gills;
denying the insect blue blood.

As discoordination grips each misguided worker,
their common error compounded,
it is one by one that they fall;
leaving hanging in the air the taste of
bitter almond and crunched apple pip.
Spitting at the acrid tang and sputtering
back to awareness I consciously
release the finger from the button.

Merely choking while they drown, I back to the door
and like a little boy watching dog-fights in a war film
feel suddenly sad for the underdog. Pathetic to regret
such decisive action I turn unturning to re-enter the room
where a nestling baby nuzzles for its mothers breast.

The light follows me in and I close it down.
Following fire drill I set a seal under the door.
Turning onto cold sheets I seek the sleep of justification.
How easily I weighed the balance; there is no restitution possible.
The nest will regenerate and in the morning
I will wake to walk a carpet barbed with dead revenge.


Once knit
the essence of jumper is warm;
get inside it
and it is being worn.
It inside you
means you are warm.
What is it doing?
It is warming you.
What are you doing?
You are feeling it.

Once lived
the essence of experience
is did.
Wear it
like a uniform
and you are known.
Wear it
inside you
and you know.
What is it doing?
It is being you.
what are you doing?
You are making it.

Being is doing,
newly fashioning
the essence of done.
Why be?
To do.
Why do?
To be.
Do? Be? Do?
Do be do be do:
That is the question.

Sunlight At The OK Corral

Nobody feels no emotion like these boys;
shooting from the hips,
a slippery fix
in their slick games of
bluff, balls, battery and gall.

Cool as cold steel,
hard as the hammer
of their gun-toy
as it clicks and taps
the back of the bullet.

Always on the right side.
Always winning.
Ready to die.
Slit- eyed and spitting
they step out into the sunlight.

The Rise and Fall

Outside the pub
I parked the car
one space away
from the old Rover.
In the bar
the soft rap music
past the old couple
masticating trout.
I gave to the charity box
and the picture
of the cripple
dipped away.
I apologised.

The old couple
passed the vinegar
to a young woman.

the hoodie
in the village shop
swayed with confidence
but I was cool,
I was eating
a ham roll
on the street,
while the ice-cream bar,
hermetically sealed,
slowly melted
in my pocket.


Close your ears or receive
a perfect pattern of me
analogue on delicate skin,
drumming your membrane ear;
neural to your brain.
My signature vibrations
cannot help but touch you.
Intimate, identifying as a look;
more surely than a fingerprint touch
or scent to your vestigial sense of smell.
Close your ears or feel me now.

Dead Reckoning

Dark nights and lights.

Sun mazed moon,
flight dazed buffoon,
light crazed crusader;
kamikaze planet raider.
Black night at his back,
white heat at his feet,
blinded selfless attack
his persistent defeat.

Exhausted, dead-beating-twitching wings
drop, flip, shuffle on the table top.

And a bugler’s mourning lay, high,
in distant rings, the charge to fill his belly-pot.
Blood lust dive on red, lush hive
to thrive on prized liquor:
unless the donor’s quicker.

A Correspondence

We don’t correspond any more,
can’t you see we
don’t fit into the same jigsaw.

Pull the lock and open the door,
look back and see
we don’t correspond any more.

At my windows the blinds are drawn,
can’t you see we
don’t fit into the same jigsaw.

As you tread the dew across the lawn,
look back and see
we don’t correspond any more.

Turn from darkness towards the dawn,
can’t you see we
don’t fit into the same jigsaw.

Look back and see;
can’t you see
we don’t correspond any more;
don’t fit into the same jigsaw.


Escape, recluse, hidden from
Whom nothing from.

Restess, fitful, fearful of
Whom nothing from.

Bored, ignored, deplored as
Whom nothing from.

Sleep; induced, reduced, seduced to
One, gone, whom nothing from.

Tired, timed, as one are many
Many is one
To whom from whom
One are gone
Nothing from.


It’s just the chip in the paint on the cast iron radiator;
not its age or the way that its weight
is, still, so firmly anchored to the wall;
not the fact that when I last curled my
hand around this brass flange I was eighteen
or that since then have no idea how many
layers of paint have added to its thick-set gloss:
Its just the chip in the paint that my nail
has just prised away.

We didn’t get out of the car that day
not right away. Then,
two halves in a mirror-dance,
we opened the doors and walked away.
I was eighteen. And since then have no idea
how many doors have closed or how many
might have opened had we not got out of the car
and just walked away.

Get a Grip

(After Thomas Hardy’s At The Draper’s)

I saw you in the electrical store.
You were about to buy something
to give you pleasure,
slightly annoyed
that the assisstant
did not know how it worked.

I would have come over to say hello
but it might have embarrassed you
to be seen being indulgent and assertive.
It might have breached
your moment
of anonimity,
so I remained unseen;

and now I feel that I may have violated
your privacy with my knowledge.
I have seen you since;
too embarrassed
to approach.
We have spoken but you
did not mention
your purchase.


Adit: An almost horizontal shaft into a mine.
It is the nut that grows underground;
grows when the moon laps at its leaves.
Dig and smash them in the mortar.
Bind the loose tongue with its paste.

The Adit
You stare into my jambed mouth,
shining the glint of your meagre pen – light,
as if to plumb the heavy darkness
that lies beyond seeing-sight’s recovery.

I can feel your want to hack:
beyond heart; beyond gut; beyond bowel:
to grab and steal; hollow out
my foul and dirty raw ore;
smelt my guts into pig ingots.

Come inside with your fear
And snuff your little light.

From the cold clay of my belly,
on a guttural utterance I will
cough you out - and you will rise,
rise on my sublime song.

Snuff your little light.

Now: untie the tongue.

The Old Intercourse

Carry On up the Sit-Com, Benny.

Painted lips leer like a fecund baboon’s labia
and breasts give cleavage saying take me,
take me from behind . She leans across the desk
defies me to look her in the eye. Biscuit?
she says and I’ll be mother. Milk? Sugar?
One lump or two? Mind the drips. Clumsy me;
almost in your lap there. Have another one,
go one, plenty more where these came from.
I like a man who likes his food, I’m not being rude
but are you sporty? My ex husband always said,
god rest his soul, that what’s the point of getting old
if you can’t enjoy the ride. Now, go on; you need
to keep your strength up: custard cream or hobnob?
Now, what was it made you apply for the job?

I’m Just This Guy

Hey, I’m just this guy, you know.
I got a lucky break and I’m glad you dig the show.
But have you seen yourselves calling my name.
Show some self-respect guys it’s only fame.
I’m not so great as you’ve been thinking.
My ego swells while yours is shrinking.
Excuse me now, I’ve got to go;
they want to know
my shoe size.

Ok. You’ve got my good side, yes?
But before we start,
you can get my stats from my PR:
Inside leg;
how I cover my peg;
and whether or not I currently
share my bed.

Now, ask me something smart, like:
Have I ever had a broken heart?
Do I like street art?
What do I do when my partner farts?
Just joking; shoot.

You’re kinda nervous.
I wont bite.
Hey now, don’t get uptight.
Your last review was outa sight.
What’s that?
Come on now I don’t want a fight.

Ok, ok I’ll cut the crap
No need to snap.
I’m just this guy.
who likes to rap.

How to Develop a Poem

For National Poetry 2008 which was on the theme of WORK
Largely by Susan M. Heathfield, Human Resources Expert(for
With a little help from
Greg Clare, Poet.

Identifying the Need for a Poem
You must have the necessary policies and procedures to ensure a safe, organized, convivial, empowering, non-discriminatory poem. Yet, you do not want to write a poem for every exception to accepted and expected behaviour. Poem development is for the many not for the few. Consequently, you do not want to create poems for every contingency, thus allowing very little latitude in addressing individual reader’s needs. Conversely, you must have ‘needed’ poems, so that readers never feel as if they reside in a free-for-all environment of favouritism and unfair treatment. These ten steps will take you from determining the need for a poem through distributing and integrating a poem.

Check Out These Guidelines to See if a Poem Is Needed
A poem is necessary:
• if the actions of readers indicate confusion about the most appropriate way to behave
• if guidance is needed about the most suitable way to handle various situations
• to keep the reader in compliance with governmental policies and laws
• to establish consistent literary standards, rules, and regulations
• to provide consistent and fair treatment for readers
There may be other reasons, additionally, for why you may want to develop a poem. Remember, though, that one reader’s poor taste should not require a poem that will affect all other readers.

Articulate the Goal of the Poem
Once you’ve determined that a poem is necessary, determine the goal you want to accomplish in writing the particular poem. When possible, you will want to tell readers why the poem is being implemented. You need enough details in the poem to make the position clear, yet you can never hope to cover every potential situation addressed by the poem. Consequently, my goal with a poem is short and simple: use common sense as you determine the outcome you want from your poem.

Gather Information
This Human Resources website provides sample poems as do many other websites, albeit other companies frequently charge for their poems. Even websites that charge provide free samples so you can test their poems. In my experience, I never find a sample poem that is exactly right for my circumstances. But, research online and find sample poems to provide a base for revising rather than writing your poem from scratch.

Develop and Write the Poem
With goals and samples in hand, write the poem using simple words and concepts. Speak directly to the people who will be reading, enforcing, and living by the poem. After each paragraph, ask yourself "what if" questions to make certain the poem is covering the basics and the normal exceptions and questions. Do not obsess over this, however; as stated, no poem ever covers every possible contingency.

Review the poem
Select several employees, or even a small pilot group, to read the poem and ask any questions they might have about the poem. This review provides feedback that readers will be able to understand and follow the poem. Rewrite the poem based on the feedback.

Obtain Management Support for the Poem
Review the poem with the managers who will have to lead and put into effect the poem. You will want to have their support and ownership of the poem. You will have started this process much earlier, even as early as when you identified the need for the poem, but management support as you implement the poem is crucial.
Obtain Legal Review of the Poem
If the poem has legal implications, is litigious by its nature, has personal implications for readers, you will want to have your attorney review the poem before you distribute the poem further. Make sure you communicate to your attorney that you do not want the poem rewritten in "legalese." You want the poem reviewed for legal implications and appropriate wording.
Implement the Poem
In small groups, individually, or in a meeting, depending generally on the controversial nature of the poem and the ease with which it will be understood, distribute and review the new poem. Give readers a chance to ask questions.
The poem should always consist of the poem on a piece of paper with the reader’s sign off on a second sheet. Readers can sign off that they have received and understand the poem, yet retain a copy for their own files.

This is a sample sign off statement to use:

I acknowledge receipt of and understanding of the (Title) Poem. The poem is effective from (Date) until further notice:
Reader’s Signature ____________________________________
Reader’s Name (Please Print) ________________________________
Date ____________________________

Decide How You Will Communicate the Poem in the Future
Include the Poem in your reader handbook. You may also want the poem to become part of your New Reader Orientation. Some companies place poems in their Intranet or in a poem folder on the computer network's common drive. Determine whether you will want to distribute the poem by additional methods. You will also want to archive and date former poems that this poem replaces. You may need them for reference in the future.

Integrate, Interpret and Evaluate the Poem
No matter what you write in the poem, your later poem’s application and work practices will determine the real meaning of the poem. Think "consistent" and "fair" as you interpret the poem over time. When you find your practices differing from the written poem, it is time to review and rewrite the poem and the cycle starts again.

The Story of The Hurricane

(Greg and Stuart communicate on National Poetry Day 2008)

“Kent’s taken a bit of a battering”
I heard across the office as behind me
trees threw the sound of their brittle
autumn leaves at the window.

The Garden County once again
lay razed to a tangle of stubble;
memories of Michael Fish
instantly played-back the picture.

But his look had the look of a person
unexpectedly semi-detached and
perplexed with banging his head
on the sudden adjoining wall.

I caught the look and received
a blunt lesson in empathy
with our confused and elderly
clients with late stage dementia.

“NO” he said “IT’S KEN;
fallen off his bike again:
taken a bit of a battering”