The water carriers (published in Prole)
The first to come was an anabaptist,
a handyman. A man of God he may have been,
his workmanship was poor. He talked
and talked, a flow untapped. An apprentice in tow,
bored by all his gaffer’s patter.
The second to come was a man who came to fix it all.
He stood, dismayed, by the leaks and stains.
He sucked his last four teeth, he shook his hairless head.
He drained three cups of tea, worked silently,
save for a Catholic oath he swore. He packed up
and left with his fee.
The third to come, now I know him,
I leave him with the key. My dripping tap,
he tells me, his meat and potatoes –
compensates the plumber’s curse of piles
and lumbago. The last time, on my return,
the bathroom resembled a burglary scene.
Footprints in the bath, on the tiles,
brush and bottles strewn across the floor.
As if he’d suddenly been disturbed,
become trapped or
remembered something important,
upped and fled the flat.
It will get hotter every year (published in Finished Creatures)
This city’s folly will be built on stilts
and pine boards stretching out
into the brine. It will be a glass
palace to raise ephemera, pleasure, above
bathers, paddlers and blue jolly boats.
It will burn down to its iron bones.
The descendants of the first day trippers
will catch the same trains and bake
in the new hatchback cars,
to arrive in the mornings from the capital.
They will paddle in the iron and the sky.
They will be photographed in colour,
their skirts lifted, and their trousers
rolled in the cold waves.
My old man (published in South Bank Poetry)
In his chair,
in retirement sitting there,
now without his tie,
the linen spread
by rolled-up sleeves
as Ida shows the pot —
sings her dillies and dallies
dallies and dillies
turns her head
and smiles at her old man.
He twinkles back
above the headlines:
‘No galloping, Ida,
while you’re following that van!’
Leave ’em laughing (published in Other Poetry)
It was obvious to me
would fit the bill.
didn’t have a Stan
to take tumbles
swing a cane,
gather garlands cast on boards
on days when you were sad.
While you clowned
I timed the laughs
next to the start of the beam
and its machine.
And in the death
I went that-a-way
left you speechless,
in your white gloves
and funny bowler hat.