when I was prone
to depression
cripplingly shy

I took a blunt knife
and drew it across
my outstretched wrist
I never pressed hard

I was toying with suicide
like we all do
but Mother barged in
at that critical moment

and crazily screamed
so I dropped the blade
and it clattered
upon the parquet floor

Mother reached down
to retrieve the weapon
trembling all over
struck dumb

a pillar of salt
then she edged backwards
out of my room
no word was ever spoken.


For sleep
I’m prescribed
a bitter tablet

I flick on
my whirring
ceiling fan

burn my homeopathic
beeswax candle
insert my silicone ear plugs

plump up my goodnight pillow
relax those tense shoulders
clear my ringing head

of disquieting images
and cave in
to the insomnia

that’s destroyed my world
for three decades
since I was wed.


Our tidal harbour
is a placid monster

until a southerly blows
and sea squall

flagellates your face
and our geese hunker down

on their swamped mudflats
and the gale bawls

like a thing possessed
requiring exorcism

spooking our boathouses
whose corrugated roofs

and our ferry tugs at her berth

cancelled indefinitely
until the blow

has emptied its lungs
and her foul temper is spent.


Once I lived
on a road

in paradise.
We’d wheel our

children’s prams
along the pebbly lane

mouthwatering views

as the sun set
into the sea

beside beetling bluffs.
The children were oblivious

to astonishing beauty
they waved their restless legs

perched on the best
park-bench imaginable

while I drank

clutching your
cold hand.


The city magistrate
distrusts all souls

the immigrant element

breeding in the rough
quarter of town

he demands such people
be obsequious

he suspects criminality
in a dark skin tone

he’s never partaken
of foreign food

he is respected
by the right people

for his
liberal views

one day
a knighthood

will assuredly
drop into his lap.


My mailbox collects
autumn leaves

but never a missive
from my Father

of sixty years.
I’d venerate a postcard

of ten words
a foolscap letter

would be enthralling
I’d forgive all

the silent years
that have blighted

my family
but now I am certain

nothing shall come
only more dead leaves.


Hang it upside-down
holding it by its chicken feet

which will be wonderfully gelatinous
in a rich broth

press its head against the chopping block
wield your machete skillfully

submerge the carcass
in boiling water

to loosen the feathers
and pluck.

Once broiled
divide the bird

into equal pieces
serve the waxy flesh

with sticky rice
and piquant chilli

so finger-licking
so wonderful!


A cigarette butt
snuffed under your heel
screwed into the dirt

faintly smoking
your trademark

premium brand
I still catch
the intoxicating whiff

of raw nicotine
though you blew
your last smoke-ring

before I was thirteen
when I could never comprehend
the finality of cancer.


There are special places
if you lose your grip

if your sanity
has worn to a stub

where you can recuperate
away from the blare

the crazy babble
of modern society

until the scream
in your head

is silenced
and the pills

do their magic
making you numb

entirely able to tackle
this hard-boiled world.