Choreography of kingcups
splayed out
as if flung by a hand
across the strip of meadow by the pool
        where the ducks wait
their turn
    digging deep in their feathers
        for ticks

and further on, a coot, white-billed, long-legged
stalking demurely to the pool,
like a Victorian lady with girded drawers.

Two trains cross,
and a runner speeds by.

I’m lost to the world; no,
it’s more that, neither sleeping, nor waking,
I become the world, feel its slow turn.

(A couple go past,
a woman with headdress
and her husband scolding her.
The ducks make their escape; she
goes off and sits on a bench, head bowed.)

In the first touch of summer you surmise its end –
dusty August, late afternoon,
a heat haze dumbfounds the blue,
while thunder peals along the horizon,
like a set of bowling balls,
or a plane circling off course
lost to all runways.

Parched grass.
This is my secret garden,
where I disappear for an afternoon,
yet even here
I feel the city drawing near.
spread out behind me like a carpet,
threadbare, the pattern faded, frayed at the edges.

Silence hemmed in by sounds.
Voices of passers-by
distant as voices in a dream.
A plane homing in low to Schiphol airport

and then there is the sound of silence,
that even the shrill piping of insects
or the moorhen’s splash as it somersaults,
hardly disturbs.

‘In the Alder Thicket’ was originally published in the anthology ‘The Book of Hope and Dreams’ (Bluechrome, 2006, ed. Dee Rimbaud:


    For Selese

I am standing with my love
on Battersea Bridge
in the first heat-wave of summer.

Along the Embankment the river of cars is unbroken
but the Thames, lowest water on record,
has the look of a pool being drained

and the sky, pale colour of urine,
is furrowed with flight paths
like a forehead frowning with age.

giant blades
harvest the late-afternoon haze.

One I saw in mid air
hovering motionless
in a furious standoff with Battersea Power Station.

It’s as if a huge membrane
transparent as a featherlite condom,
has been stretched

between us and the sky,
a dome of millennial malevolence
between us and infinity.

The sky’s the limit,
a plangent lid
under which we seethe,

no longer an ever-receding cerulean blue
promising infinity,
but an echo-chamber

where our words are thrown back at us,
our broken promises and good intentions,
and hell is hearing ourselves speak.

On this evening on Battersea Bridge
the gentlest emotion
is a wistful sadness

but the kiss you plant on my cheek
is light as a butterfly
riding on a blade,

readying itself for takeoff.
Maybe it doesn’t change anything,
but all attempts are welcome.

‘Under the Weather’ is to appear in ‘Ambit’ in 2008



8 am Starbuck’s
Astor Place

the first crop
of office workers shows up

clipped speech at the counter.
as they order

their coffee and Danish
I’m up there with the best of them

but as I turn I glimpse
the street people

as they slide from the benches
where they’ve rested since dawn

one after another
a larval stir

of old stiff overcoats
shuffling outside

at the signal of the first comers
through the swing doors

the whole event
a conversation-stopper

so played out
in absolute silence

but taking
less than a minute

leaving us to enjoy
the heady tang of Jamaican

Blue Mountain coffee
more or less undisturbed



downstairs 5 to seven
caught the weather forecast

like a bad cold
could have looked outside instead

radio blares out
as I make my tea

still dark at seven
even darker than yesterday

for some reason
time seems to be going backward

make a cuppa but first
open back door and slam straight shut

but the wolf got in anyway
a raging blast

scouring the larder
howling around the kitchen

furiously licking
the four walls

clean like an empty jam jar
then out once more

but I caught his tail
as I slammed the door

hungry wind
hungry wolf

stinking tail
of a cold wet wolf

rotten way
to start the day

‘The Wolf Inside’ is to appear in ‘Ambit’ in 2008



decided to take a look
at the poet not the poetry

to read the poet
as his poetry

gave him three marks out of ten
for lifestyle

hardly an innovator,
though he made a great nuisance of himself

raided the larder at 1 am
for supplies of marmite-flavoured twiglets

committed mixed metaphor
in relationships

mistook people for each other
kissed his enemies

did he influence
future generations

did he pass on the message
of the great tradition

adding his own thumbprint
to magnificence

no he came down
late for breakfast

forgot to return
borrowed money

on his bicycle
knocked down old ladies with shopping carts

his poetry was marvellous
passed him

like an Aston Martin
on the motorway

leaving him standing
no apparent connection


On the far side of the Westerdok
they’re building new flats
twelve storeys in Amsterdam

a crane slices the evening sky
two big lamps with the firm’s name
on the cross-bar

hanging like moons
in the November dusk
while the real moon

looks like a bad-tempered pinched little baby
dandled upwards
by the cross-bar

as if ushered
by real estate developers

later at 4 am
a steel-blue light wakes us
and we peer from our bedroom window

on the far side of the house
from its absolute height
the same moon

is gazing down
on our sleep-
drenched state

as if dangling
by a thread
from eternity

‘Moonrise’ is to appear in Ambit in 2008



Summer had already marched a long way into Autumn
when we drove into the hills.
At a height of 1500 metres
with the road surging upward into San Pellegrino
through the swirling mist,
it seemed
we had reached the end of the known world.
A blind view and sheer curves on the road down,
but more than in the mist
we were lost in each other.



Some people have a dog
I have a f1y
follows me around
more faithful I know not
keeps close to me
if I move he does
if I leave anything
on the kitchen table
could be a dog
he wolfs it

If I leap into bed late at night
pull the cover over
my head
then come up for air
and stick my nose out
he makes the perfect landing
just guess where

Would you keep a f1y as a pet
take him out for a walk
with a mini-mini-scoop
for his little poopie-doop
would you take him out for a walk
a long one a short one
a last one?



A computer
got one in the eighties

it will do my translation for me

save time
save money

a time-saving

now I’m a translator
three times as much

work as before
no time to live

I’m an extension of
a time-saving device

what saves time
costs time.

computer software

booking your flight
on line

modern existence
ran away with our lives

all costs money
wch. is time

costs time

instruction manuals
learning that language

costs time

your time-saving device
costs time

start feeling comfortable with it
it crashes

recovering data
costs time

or else there’s
an essential update

that costs time
more instructions

how to install --
the most recent versions

are hypersensitive
complex to use

too many possibilities
none of them you need

complex procedures
are resorted to

to restore your former state
save time

all time-saving devices

only got one life
might as well enjoy   



I dreamed I fell from the highest building,
but that highest building was me.
For my work took me to the ninetieth floor
down by the glittering sea.

My sweetheart said, "Don't go in today,
just snuggle up close to me."
I said, "Sweet, you're naughty to say such a darling thing,
but I'm saving for you and me."

She said "Tell your boss you're sick or so,
we'll lie in a little bit more."
But I sighed and slipped into my clothes
and out of our bedroom door.

She turned to the wall and closed her eyes
but didn't sleep in for long.
She woke to a blaze of TV news,
and remembered where I'd gone.

Oh! please, dear God, make me late for work
down by the glittering sea.
Let some minor incident slow my train
to those canyons down by the sea.

I dreamed I fell from the highest building,
but that highest building was me.
For my work took me to the ninetieth floor
by the glittering, glittering sea.
The Glittering Sea' was shown in the exhibition, 'Reactions' at Exit Art gallery, Lower Broadway NYC, Artists and others respond to 11/9. (2002) It has appeared in Ambit, no. 170, Autumn 2002 and is featured on the Ambit website ( .


This month's ill part of me will be my feet.
I distress myself looking at them.
How shiny they are, the skin could be Chinese paper,
surfaces like moon plateaux.

My feet are growing old faster than the rest of me -
though running on ahead would be an imprecise description.
Rather they stumble forward on their own momentum,
like a great power past its prime.

Crusty they are too, with fissures.
Less biology than geology.
Unsafe for walking on, a foot fetishist's worst case scenario.

I visit chiropodists all over town.
Each has a different version of what I should do.
They look at my two tombstones, mentally wringing their hands.
Mentally I watch them mentally wringing their hands.

Perhaps I'll need socks of elastic all my life.
Don't worry, they say. Flesh-coloured, they're almost invisible, they'll soon become part of you.

Various preparations may be applied, three times a day.
Don't expect a miracle however; you have unusually dry feet.

Others tell me the only solution may be surgery.
How everyone has it these days.
How you don't even need to overnight in hospital.
How with lasers it leaves no scar.

How I can get a replacement with feet of clay.

Next month I will celebrate my teeth.



    "Sorry if I made you cry", John Lennon
Sorry if I'm bothering you.
Sorry if I'm in your way.
Sorry that I interrupted
Sorry that I came to stay

Sorry if I don't look sorry.
Sorry but I really tried.
Sorry I outstayed my welcome.
Sorry I broke down and cried.

Sorry I always missed the point.
Sorry if I changed my mind.
Sorry I didn't understand.
Sorry I wasted your precious time.

Sorry I didn't pay back that loan.
Sorry that I used your phone.
Sorry I messed your busy schedule.
I had no schedule of my own.
I couldn't stand to be alone.

Sorry that I bought that ground
for a burial in style
in an overpriced monument - you know,
one of those pointed ones along the Nile.

That way I'll go down in history
and have my cut of the cake of fame.
Though I was a frightful bore,
at least you won't forget my name.
click here to view a video of Donald reading “Sorry" at the Pink Pony Cafe, New York



If you must fly, take a plane.
Try flying backwards.
Count time backward.
Lean forward to go forward.
Count your blessings before they're hatched.
Count yourself happy.
If you can't control yourself go all the way.
If you can't help being stupid, stand tall and proud.
If you land in jail return to New York.
Don't sleep before you're spoken to.
Catch up on lost sheep.
The sheep of the desert is a camel.
Passengers flying through the eye of a needle are only permitted to carry hand luggage.
The elephant of the skies is a Jumbo jet.
Give up smoking - set fire to a camel.
To fly safely is better than to arrive.



Under the stars of Naples
Alone at last!
In the hotel I booked the queen-sized matrimonial suite.

Friends and family gave me a great sendoff.
My aged mother, tears in her eyes, waving goodbye:

"I'm glad to see you finally settled.
You weren't exactly the easiest person to live with."

"Great, mother", I say, "finally I've found someone you really approve."

Yet after all the excitement I don't know what to think.
Is it love that I feel?
or did I just talk myself into it?
Won't I get bored?

And, indeed, next morning at breakfast in the hotel dining room
the atmosphere is a little subdued,

Everybody smiles at they look at me.
What must they be thinking?

Suddenly I'm a stranger, even to myself.

I look at myself, my downcast eyes.
Will conversation always be this hard?
And I wonder:
did I make the right choice?
Will I make myself happy?

Should I have spent more time surveying the field?

But as the mist lifts from the sea,
like a curtain opening on distant islands,
perhaps there is hope.

A stroll along the cliffs might cheer my spirits.

Still the nagging doubt:
I wasn't quite sure if I was a virgin.


This train got started at Leytonstone.
This train could hardly bear to leave Leyton,
only really got going at Stratford,
decided it wasn't worth it at Mile End,
opted for the category of non-achiever at Bethnal Green,
changed for the Metropolitan and Circle Lines at Liverpool Street,
lost all grip on reality at the Bank
This train took leave of its senses at Saint Paul's.

This train has drained the sweetness out of life, including the nostalgia for
This train stole love from me and gave me a career with prospects,
 stole my ability to feel love and compensated me with money.
This train made sex into a commodity item.
This train carries in its bowels the memories of the beautiful trains: Train Bleu,
              Trans Siberian, the Orient and Rome expresses, the Cairo-Luxor train
              rushing with joy down the blue, yellow, green valley of the Nile where
              white egrets flew between palms.
 It would like to be these trains, but oh! no this train is destined to convey
silence coagulating between passengers,
poker-faced sadnesses behind newspapers.

This train is adept at making major pronouncements between stations,
got off and walked round the platform at Chancery Lane,
enjoyed a mid-life crisis at Holborn,
rode again from the dead at Tottenham Court Road.
At Oxford Circus stopped for water,
mumbled in its beard at Bond Street.

                   That's right, blame it on the train,
                   stopping between all stations.
                   That life's not what it used to be.
                   That you didn't turn things as you'd have liked them,
                   got stuck in obsolete tunnels, never exited to light.
                   That your relationships bogged down in a condition like lumpy porridge.
                   This train killed God, and replaced him with cybernetics.
                   Witnessed the slow dissipation of old friendships.
                   This train produced a new, annotated version of the lamentations of Jeremiah.

                             Where light became a legendary thing,
                             and colour an unheard-of dimension.

This train rolled over and wanted its tummy tickled at Marble Arch,
had a bout of asthma at Lancaster Gate,
ululated at Queensway,
ejaculated at Notting Hill Gate
This train excavated itself at Holland Park.
This train eradicated itself at Shepherds Bush,
extinguished itself at White City,
distinguished itself at East Acton,
but not in any way that was intended.

  It never knew what was intended.
  It was the fault of the train that you became derailed.
  That you can't have your life over again.
  That no ticket refund is possible.
  You made your journey, now you must pay for it.

This train exterminates at North Acton.
This train attempted to commit euthanasia at West Acton.
This train terminates at Ealing Broadway.
                    Step out at Ealing Broadway,
                    dazzled by the steel-grey daylight.
                    Somewhere I've never been before.
                    Maybe not such a bad place after all.
                    Products in serried ranks in all the supermarkets.
                    A racially mixed population.
                    Gaps of sky between the housing estates.
                    A thousand new impressions.
                    Ealing for ever!  

'Train Drain' was first published in Long Shot magazine (ed. Danny Shot) vol. 24, Hoboken, NJ. ( It also appeared in Ambit, no.171 January 2003.