poetry

Mr Peter Clarkson Goes Swimming 

As flood water rose through the rooms 
of his house, Mr Clarkson peeled off his clothes,
plunged into his kitchen.

Pulling his body through the dirty water,
amongst the floating kettle,
Branston pickle, vodka bottle,

he kicked up a storm 
at his kitchen cupboards.
A quick backstroke butterfly to the sink, 

a steady crawl around the island,
and then some lengths 
in breaststroke,

somersaulting, at each turn
pressing his palms 
on his carefully laid granite tiles.

Finished Creatures July 2020

Sky

It’s early summer.
On a bench in the garden,

chat drifts comfortably
between us.

In between branches
I see patches of magenta,

amber, white
like the falling remnants 

of flowers. They’re T shirts
someone’s left to dry

in the warm air.
For a moment

I glimpse a long dog,
heat rising 

from his tongue,
magnolia blooms like hankies,

dangling over him.
Things like this

keep catching my attention,
appearing sideways

sometimes full on. Shifting
in and out of focus,

waving in that space
that should be sky.

I want to fold them,
lay them in a drawer.

Shut.

Obsessed with Pipework, 2019

Frogmore Papers

Into Autumn

Doors slide apart,
a wind whips my ankles.
I shiver as a voice announces
this is Haywards Heath.

The empty Pumpkin Cafe,
orange tabard-clad rail workers and
a man in headphones on a metal seat.
The train opposite departs,

clouds shift.
Daubs of white gold spread
over platform, track and 
faint October heat lights up concrete,
seeps into the Sussex countryside,

where inhabitants of Haywards Heath,
Burgess Hill and Wivelsfield,
Hassocks, Preston Park
and Brighton lift their faces,

let their shoulders fall,
feel the glimmer
in each changing leaf. 

The Frogmore Papers, Number 93


Teatime At The Clarkes

When Mr Clarke 
calls my aunty fat,

time ticks slowly 
on the big clock.

The sun throws shadows 
round the sundial.

Red Admirals freeze 
with their wings shut tight,

flying ants crawl into cracks
and cacti prickle.

 Mrs Clarke pours scalding tea 
and teacups in their saucers wobble,  

and no one 
has an appetite for cake. 

Brighton & Hove Arts Council Poetry Competition 2015, Second Prize

Reach Poetry1 

Weaving the Tails

She can see a shadow like a sea serpent
in the corner of her eye.

When she turns her head it slides 
just out of focus but doesn’t go away.

Her husband takes her to A & E.
They sit on orange plastic chairs 

joined unnaturally together
for five hours.

Luckily, she’s brought the blanket 
she is crocheting.

While they wait 
she hooks stitches 

twirling, looping, linking, catching

cluster 

          chain 

                       slip 

                                 drop

stares at posters on the walls
gauging the tension, weaving in the tails.

The blanket grows  
in warm folds covering her knees, 

making a softness 
where tears can fall and not be seen. 

Reach Poetry, Issue 251, August 2019