Medusa In Her Salon

I put a cigarette in my hair, forget
Light another 
Until I’m pouring smoke
Like Typhon
Or some other creature
With an overture’s burning eyes
And a mouth like Hades

That young Perseus, you know
Wing-heeled and with
A penchant for mirrors
I would not so boldly
Demand he look himself in the face
With all that ire and confrontation 
Of time’s bronzed blemish

Burnished sunsets come what may
That Zeus, half bull, half swan
Made of minotaurs a laughing stock
For all his hubris and charm
Cattle calling from the Parthenon
Milk bar across the road

He always complains
About the poison smell
It is just ammonia, foolish man
To colour snakes like hair
Ruby, gold, auburn, blonde
A fired sunset
Your face, when the winds change
Almost turned to stone

Angels & Dandelions

I will
Dismay you with dandelions
Adrift around your face
As if you were some woebegotten saint 
Surprised by torment as least as much as benediction
Too far, you say
A weed by any other name
Will still defeat
Your more refinéd Eden
How they gentling fall and cling 
To your hair and lips and brow
As if angels in their sorrow
Humbly kissed

Nine Pages

The gouge is in the fibres

As if permanence were


Solely on the fury of the hand

Each syllable a bird

         Chiselling the sky

         Not a cloudbleak day


Lines challenging erasure

As if this were a palimpsest

For a greater world

Where all the fragments

        I forgot


            In the dance of thunder

A trailed whisper

The shock yet to come

I pour out the glass

Shake the aching in my wrist

      Bone cracking like the onset hail

    Are you listening

Through the detritus of time

   Dig a little deeper

   Strata weak as flesh

Fissile as a moment’s lost idea

Mostly illegible

The space between the lines

          has more to say

   We ache the way

The minotaur does

In our maze


The string is frayed

         Ariadne, shorn of her display

Knits up time again

    The hammer knock

Of the torn page

        Throw it out a crumpled


                  til lost

Felice Averno

The house has eyes

A sunburned peel of paint

The silver underneath

Of unevening decay

Summer slaps me down

Pulls air from my lungs

Huffs it out with the ghosts

Of dandelions, each withered dance 

Asbestos dry and sharp

As any dust-devil resistance

I hide within, the screen door scrape

Of your hinged words, a growling cringe

The air softly sieved

Into wormed cascades, rejoined again

As if, like poems

The old, familiar sounds

Were made anew

Pull-to the door

A haze of half-closed days

A fine meridian 

Seems to say

Abandon hope

All who venture here

Bread & Rivers

As you knead
Your eyes distend like rivers
Behind half reflecting glass
Frames marked with the bird foot marks
Of your anxious imposture 
Imprison half your face
As if gulls had fled
The knot between your teeth
As if you could in misered focus
Taste skittish thoughts
In that hard bitten fibrillation
The more piquant
Rank sourness
For a palsied freedom
I do not know how you see
Through that constant pouring
A cattish nonchalance 
Scrape with the axe blade of your hand
At some casual irritation 
The fissile texture 
Of flour on your skin
As if inside, a statue were emerging
Eggshell and porcelain
–Bisque I think they say
Like the soup
Somehow in birthed paleness, lithe
As if the outer self
A thing of frowns and creases
Of variegations more imposited than arranged
Were the shell, the now ossified thing
You have like any wiser being outgrown

Fat Man At The Beach

Put salt in a jar

That convalescent blue

Shook it until

The sun-flecked afternoon

Groaned seashell promises

Lazily rolling

The lap of drowning dreams

There is always a fat man at the beach

In the background, walking against

The shore like some chagrined duck

Or penguin, skinned raw, useless wings, hands like cranes

Making round desultory pecks

As if

Beyond all proprietal regrets

Still tentatively swimming

Theatre Of Grass

Rain birds chisel
A heaving silvered sky
I think how
The polish smears reflections
Until just the wake of it remains
In lines as thin as chemtrails 

The weather will one day end, you said
With that delphic nonchalance
Of blue emerging from occluded winter
An eggshell’s upturned mask
Exaggerated so
The sentiment is more easily read
Across the vast arena of your thrall

I wonder if the grass
Remembers where you fell
Sways the shape you left
In evening’s bristled yellow

We have a house of melodies
Not regrets, holed like the lace
Of blowsy curtains, a shadow’s
Brief forgetting on your skin
The fabric, thistle dry
When it gentling scrapes
Against your brow, and lips and chin
A genuflection, anathema
On your eyes, another
Involuntary blink
Through dust in sunlight’s sheaves
Almost the start of weeping –except
Gathered around the street
(The drone almost tired) scattered flowers make
A library for bees, the honeyed
Aftermath of thoughts
Dolloped with the burnt wing fragrance
Of returning spring

Trouble Sunday

I will wear my morning coat

Buttons not half as big as the moon

Done up crooked and crooked done down

Till troubled as Sunday afternoon

Against my nails the tick-tack sound

That she only understands

In her chagrined gleaming

I turn skywest my crinkled brow

Beg of her a brief blessing

Feel her calming breath and hand

Cool my cumbered thoughts awhile

Smooth as the nightsea’s far lapped sands

Sleep warm inside my sleeves


The beach is made of glass

Walking backwards

On the far side of the rain

Footprints erase themselves

In swiftly drawn tongues lapping 

I am inside my Melchizedek

A message, overlong

Stained with salt, curled within

Break to find the ocean’s scrawl

–Almost indecipherable 

We chastise to the whine   and palsied shake of aeroplanes

Bright and corkscrew shards

Just a casual threat

In the thought of sudden falling

Now a sun-struck chisel mark 

In the poise of distance

Almost gone

Execution, Afghanistan (War Poem.119)

Low level violence on the news

Wounds like pig face

Do you want me to drop this cunt, the soldier shouts

His need, his fear, almost palpable

The sharp, disconsolate caesura, weak disguise

Do not see (it says) 

A dove half-hidden in the grass

In lapis, rags and bones

I will cling to the sleek thigh of a fast departing plane

With love like desperation

Fall like birds

Forgetting how to fly

We are all heroes now


Grasping freedom