Songs of the Everyday

Don’t look at this broken body.
It comes from a place where bodies get broken.
There are many others who are less intact.

Don’t look at the body, it is merely broken.
Just sit close and listen silently
to the resurrected stories.


Starlings reprise, two years on

Songs of the Everyday

When did the starlings fly?
I did not hear their sweet goodbyes.
Only the candy floss caught in the cypress trees
Tugs gently at my memories
Of festivals already come and gone.
Leave me to winter’s misty song.

My little starlings, close your eyes.
There’s time for one more lullaby
Before the dust from your impatient feet
Wells up among those cypress trees.
You will go forth to right our wrongs;
Leave us to winter’s lonely song.

Come darling there’s no need to cry.
Those simple truths are also lies
That tell us that they must be free.
That’s cotton wool up in those cypress trees.
Let others go to right their wrongs;
Leave us to winter’s bracing song.


Songs of the Everyday

Where do the starlings fly,
When summer storms retreat to amber falls
And fields swelling in the salty breeze
Now harden into smokey stubble
Rough and familiar against your cheek?

Now that we’ve kissed our last goodbyes
Beneath a sky evaporating into grey
Beneath the final wishes of a feeble sun
When all the pretty days are gone,
Where do the starlings fly?

Railside promenade (revisited)

Songs of the Everyday

They painted it in blood rust red.
As if the orphan weed that crawls
out of the cracks of broken brick
beneath the corrugated sky
is not already eloquent?
Step gingerly along the wet insides,
bearded brown stone spilling
its incontinence onto the concrete,
and keep turning to look back.

The handrail is pink and chipped,
like that Demonic Barbie’s nails
or old bald doll’s head on its spider’s legs.
Your soles sipping the slippery stone,
hold tight the reassuring plastic patina
of this, this parody of reassurance,
and as your hand shifts down its length
you give it, for the little that it gives,
a trail of your hard earned skin.

Beyond, the rain is bristling silently
against the disappearing signals,
the bridge spits into silent stillness,
salivating leaves clog the glistening
lines below like listless tongues.
Clack clack clack. Wet black lips
panting from behind the gaps,
watch as you turn and run
into their swallowing embrace.

Don’t touch, walk swiftly through.
We do not want to hurt you.

Time-lapse from my bed

Songs of the Everyday

Afterwards, he lay in bed writing a poem.
Outside, a wind played on the roof tiles.
The first snow had come today but it had cleared
and now the wind came blundering out like a drunkard,
slipping about on the icy roads and falling into bushes,
waking all the neighbours.

She asked him to turn off the light, she couldn’t sleep.
He lay in the dark with his hands behind his head,
watching the leafy shadows dancing on the ceiling.
She slept and slowly the night went quiet and still
and the angled strips of street-lit moonlight
crept steadily along the walls.

They had promised the comet of the century
but after all the noise nobody ever got to see it.
They said its course took it too close to the sun.
He knew the risks of getting too close to the sun.
But he would glance out the window when it was clear
just in case there was a miracle.

He spent most of Christmas in bed with a fever,
mountain peaks and fleeing suns spinning incessantly
as he cocooned himself in sweat inside the sheets.
Then on New Year’s Day he was woken by the boys
jumping on the bed, and she was tugging at the duvet,
“Good morning, wake up,” they said.


Songs of the Everyday

What could I have given you
but some words,
more collateral
on the debts incurred?

What could I have written?
Just another thought
in a gilded cage
that my pen has wrought.

What could I have told you
when you looked inside,
but the faded song
of imprisoned rhymes?

And would you hear the purpose
of those sad laments?
Add them to the pile
of unwrapped amends?

There’s a finger on my lips
and I know your smile,
and your gift to me
is another child.

Time-lapse from my bed II

Songs of the Everyday

Part 1

I worked late again. A snack and bed
at the terrible hour of midnight,
when the floorboards start to wake
as the house sinks down to sleep.

A hot water bottle under the duvet, I am
typing at another screen, small now,
never failing to appreciate the irony,
or is it double irony? I never could tell.

I typed for nights for months, or years,
cannot say. Wrote so many many words,
but when my son asked me, could not
explain what it was I did at work all day.

And by the end of the sixth day, my hands,
they feebly fell, and the tight black ball
that I had been, unfolded and spread out
like a fallen teardrop across the world.

It was that perfect spring day, full of air
and blue skies, and there was hope hiding
just around the corner. The leaves had not
sprouted but there were gliders circling the hill.

Part 2

I made pancakes for dinner on Easter’s eve.
We filled them with fried pork and artichokes
and scrambled eggs. I made two in the shape
of suns for the kids and the last one was a fish.

The boys made a worm hole in the garden.
That’s right, a hole for worms, filled with water,
but the worms would not come. I was busy
gardening. I promised I would help, tomorrow.

At five I wake from a dream and lie wide open,
memories fluttering out like butterflies, yearning
and sweet and full of regrets, full of things
unfinished and unbegotten and extraordinary.

Now the old village at the top of the hill
which we can see from the bedroom window
is a smudged orange halo, and gold rain
is pouring in, just like it did nine months ago.

What lovers do

Songs of the Everyday

Tell me then, what do lovers do?

They wait in the lobby of the hotel bar
in that leather chair with the ridiculously tall back
with a cocktail and roast almonds. They eat in Soho
and get hazelnut soufflé at l’Oranger in St James’s,
and then they dance and shout through the music
at some young hangout in town, not sure where,
and fall asleep at dawn, drunk and deaf and happy.
They walk together the green Derbyshire hills
with an ordnance survey map from the B&B
until they tire, and lose themselves on a goat trail
in the hills in one third world country or another
until a woman with a goat shows them the path
and gifts them oranges, or they escape the deluge
at the foot of the dunes and follow the flooded roads
until they reach the coast, he drives, she navigates…
He looks closely at her skin and hair and eyes
for signs, as they say goodbye in the morning,
the dunes and camels hanging on the kitchen wall,
but her eyes are averted and her arms are at her sides.
When he comes back, they tell each other about
the day’s events over simple dinner and some wine,
and they sit on the big old brown leather sofa
and get to know each other again.
They fall asleep, hands locked under the duvet.

So tell me, what do lovers do?


Songs of the Everyday

She leans over the bed darkly
as droplets of moisture gather and now
run down her ribs and under her belly
where they hang in suspense.
Today her skin is clear and chill
and stretches taught to the horizon
over bumps and curves and dips
of which I can see each detail.
The bell up on the hill is tolling seven.
I lie back in the bed and close my eyes,
breathe in deeply, and my lips and tongue
know that her breasts are goose-bumped
as her hard berry nipples
nourish me with things to come.

Song for Pieve di Caminino

Songs of the Everyday

At Caminino they make merry
Among the ghekkos and the fairies
In amongst the olive groves
Where the prosecco fountain flows,
Where the wine forever flows
In amongst the olive groves.

And there is a fig tree there
Competing with the prickly pears
For the devotions of the guests
Who come to eat and drink and rest
Who come to find eternal rest
Among the spirits of the blessed.

An ancient chapel stands out back
And those who venture up the track
Beyond the figs and prickly pears
Can see the ghosts of monks at prayer
A thousand years and still at prayer
Beyond the figs and prickly pears.

And here they feed you caponata
And the veal is tonnato
And the boar is freshly slaughtered
For the baptism of the daughter
For the baptism of a daughter
A cinghiale freshly slaughtered.

And the children shout and run
And the men discuss their guns
As the smoke of their tobaccos
Charm the fairies and the ghekkos
The merry fairies on their ghekkos
Inhale the perfume of tobacco.

And as you drive back to your place
Hot tears will flow upon your face
For you to mourn all that is pretty
As you cry tears for the city.
Yes, you cry tears for the city
That taught you everything you know
About the ugly and the pretty.

At Caminino as the night turns dark
The guests have played their final parts
And exit as the curtains close
In amongst the olive groves
In amongst the olive groves
Where that magic fountain flows.

– o –

dedicated to that very magical place, Pieve di Caminino, its hosts and their new daughter Maria Giovanna.