Playgrounds

Many movie directors
share my terror of
children’s playgrounds.

The swings are empty
but move with
spectral occupants

a bizarre twister
catches a handful of rusty leaves
and hurls them sky-high

spooky disembodied voices
a sudden chilling screech
and thud

and absolutely no children
because they would never ever play
in this fearful place.

Fellowship

It took a helicopter
to winch their caravan
into place on the spit

so the family could go
whitebaiting. It was a
spectacle to watch

the ancient camper
pirouette in the sky
and get lowered

onto the shingles.
I see their campfire now
in the booming evening swell

and lament that I can’t
share their fellowship
their unbreakable bond

with this ancestral strip
of beach stones surf
and fabulous fishing.

Valediction

It will be mortifying
when rheumatism
locks up my hands

when my words
stall splutter
and altogether expire

when there is no glimmer
of creativity
when my mind is bedridden

and nobody gives a fig
that the lines have dried up
because there are other poets

with more proficient hands
to summon the heady magic
I once loved.

Empire

The Romans would have
never permitted
a clump of grass
to rise between
their paving stones.

Their network of roads
maintained by
well-fed slaves
could boast
near perfection

in an age
of attention
to detail. They
would have found
our race flabby

overfond of narcissism
without the genius
necessary to harness
an empire, or equal
their thousand year rule.

Storyteller

When our grandfathers
lived in caves

gathered round
the roaring fire

which would expel
carnivores and ghosts

I like to think
I was the storyteller

spinning bewitching
stories

making my tribe forget
the implacable danger

the dreadful loneliness
of being us.

Time

Ambition is futile
when all we amount to
is a sprinkle of dirt.

Only philosophy matters
in the short rotation of time
between our making

and our undoing.
So let me dwell
on the fabulous stars

because for them
a wink is
light years wide

the blaze of their birth
their exploding dying
a billion durations of time.

Pride

A man my age
might say
you shatter
suburban tranquillity

but I admire the
ginger ponytail
the immaculately-groomed beard
your leathers buffed up

your Harley gleaming
like a slick of black oil
so much pride astride
one very mean machine.

Conker

To drill a hole
into the centre
of your horse chestnut

find a thread
and string it through
was the quintessence

of boyhood. If your
conker was huge
it could obliterate

all the competition
and you’d be victor.

You’d polish your nut
to a deep brown shine
oil it just like a cricket ball

until one surprising match
you’d be thunderstruck
collecting the creamy

innards of your champion
hiding your distress
the glory snatched under you.

Accident

My work colleague
was involved
in a driveway accident.

He was a dreamy bloke
impractical otherworldly
he never imagined

his infant daughter would be
skipping behind the wheels
when he reversed

his sedan over her.
She is broken forever
like her father

who cannot live one moment
without imagining the terror
the guilt the pain

how he has
maimed his beautiful girl
his precious sunflower.