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?


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.

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 –

Summer ending

Songs of the Everyday

When the haze clears
The sea moves closer.
The distant unknowns of the horizon are now within reach,
And the islands perched on top of its razor edge
Tease the eye with only half concealed mysteries.

Her hot brown skin is covered with the finest sun bleached down.
As I look closer,
The ever more familiar pores and wrinkles
Are a shifting and expanding landscape,
That teases me with half concealed curves.

The air cools.
The days relax in their afternoons’ long shadows.
The excited din in glistening heat and waves
Is now replaced by a contented quiet.
The sea is a skin
Covering the world.

– 0 –

Punta Ala, Tuscany, 1 September 2010