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?

Insomnia on a midsummer’s night


On a soft and silent summer’s night
the air is too still for anything.
There is a living garden
growing out of control out my head,
aromatic buds and tempting tendrils
tangled up in hydroponic fractals,
bastard molecules busying about
with their insatiable flitting and scratching
fleeing and returning to prod and probe
the tender buds and tendrils
irritating bone and tendon
fucking molecules.

Now and then they gather up to form
an avatar of black obsidian
to mark my anniversaries.
But the little bastards
fail to coalesce, and scatter
before I can be reborn.

Just words


He would write down the lines
If his fingers were not already buried
In the hardened bitter earth.

He would write the lines down
But you go see how much you write
With honest bloodied stumps.

The soil is bitter hard, the bones too brittle.
I’d not pull too earnestly but keep the fingers
And wait ’til summer comes.

On the way home


I spent all day chasing the impossible.

And then, on the way back home, there were two guys on the radio playing acoustic guitar and singing.  I parked the car and switched off the lights and sat back in the seat.  And they set me floating across the water rocking on waves gently rolling to the persistent slacking of the halyard against the mast in the summer evening breeze, and I sat like that for a while listening.

And they told me, in different words that meant something else, that you can chase the impossible and you won’t catch it because it’s what it is. But if you chase it, precious things will keep happening on the way.

Winter night

Songs of the Everyday

Place your hand on top of mine
Like the snow has calmed the trees
I will shake it free again
In the summer breeze.

The sheets are light and heavy
Like the blanket mist outside
Come find my restless footprints
And bring me back inside.

Soon your summer kisses
Will smooth the creases on my face
And replace this sleepless night
With your cool embrace.

winter night

Where to


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?

London: a mini collection

Songs of the Everyday

Below are some poems written prior to the move to Italy, collected as a little tribute and farewell to London. These poems reflect both my frustrations and regrets in those last months and weeks. I hope Londoners both present and ex will find something here that they can relate to.


I dip into the City,
To hear that clipped delivery
From well pressed shirts;
To see the confidently pressed hands
Conditioned with the starch of colleagues’ collars
And generously inked bills;
Those energetic walks,
Lads tailored breast to breast
So freshly stripped and striding
Towards its glittering insatiable curves.

I took the Jubilee to Waterloo.
And there I saw them sag
Under the tunnelled weight,
So many stubborn sinners
In wait in daily trepidation
Of some impending awkward horror.
And then the world is rushing past
And piling up at entrances and exits
Before those monstrous manifolds
Impede its progress to its TV dinners.

And then across the river to the Strand
I fall into the gentler press
Of holidaying crowds.
And in the bubbling rush of widened eyes
And early evening’s broken shimmers
I look to see:
Abandoned cranes in rusted bloom,
Bridges picking spindly ways through mud and water,
Amid applauded concrete baubles
Afloat on their graffiti’d pillars.

Like time-lapse film
This city churns and breathes and lives
Right there in front of me
However hard I look away.

– o –

If I may be so blunt

His voice drones through the sanctuary of the carriage.
She pipes up occasionally.

When she talks he walks his fingers
And keeps straightening his cuffs.
She digs her nails into her fingertips.

When she manages to fit a word,
He interrupts and interjects and overtakes,
His own unquestionable take and not a single question.

She looks uncertain, glancing at the window
Trying hard to fill the awkward silences
With half formed offers for his own completion.

You appreciate his position?
Unsought encounter with an unsought colleague.
Foreign. Swarthy. Accented.
Quiet, deprived of all his cavernous sonority,
A little deferential to his seniority,
Clearly not as clever and a little dull,
All in the whispered huddle of a busy train.

In his reluctant monotone and magic fidgeting
He has let us know all about it.
If she would just articulate what she must surely know.

Sirrah, you are a cunt.

– o –

Goodbye to summer

Goodbye, the sea.
Goodbye, goodbye the sea.
Goodbye the fleeting pleasures
You have given up to me.

So long now, lonely nights.
So long the lonesome lights.
So long we’ve stared in silence
At each others’ doleful eyes.

Farewell, farewell the chaos,
Farewell your restless players,
You’ll be just fine without us.
Beneath your endless tiers.

Goodnight, the brief enchantment,
Goodnight, the amortised contentment
Of all those city-lit encounters.
Godspeed, the gathering resentment.

And so I’ll end the awkward silence.
I’ll leave so you can stay behind.
Now you can let out all your gathered sighs.

Goodbye, the sea, goodbye.

– o –

What the morning wind brings

Songs of the Everyday

The morning wind blows fresh –
The minx,
In anticipation of a summer’s day,
Reaches up her fingers underneath my t-shirt,
And presses up against
Your red bikini top
Clinging on to goosebumped skin.

But whisper this!
With these seductions
She brings us news
Of distant welcomings,
And aromatics, sweet from northern lakes,
And silent mountains gesturing
For us to fall into their deep embrace.

But she has her reputation.
She brings us all of that,
But brings it all with such impetuous timing,
On fool’s gold ornaments
That speak of wanton needs,
And taunts us with the transparent greens
Of summers we will never see.

But we have done our crying.
We’ll tell the friends we leave
That it was never meant to be.
We’ll hold our mothers’ hands
And promise we will not let go
Until they’re sleeping.
And for the rest there will be no goodbyes
For we will see them at the water’s side.

– 0 –

Summer 2010