Selected poems from my published collections

From S-h-h-hidelplonk (2002)

A Poem I Had To Write Because My Last Poem Made You Hate Me

Subtle understatement, I tell myself.
Irony. Subtle understatement.
I need to say,
in a subtle, understated way,
I'm sorry
for being a bastard.
Using irony.

The reason this poem has to be
ironic, and subtly understated,
is so I can get it published.
For my ego, in other words.
See what a bastard I am.
You're right to hate me.

(I need a reference to the White Album,
or Malcolm X, or T.S. Eliot,
to give this poem artistic credibility--
it's about as credible now as Ginsberg's vision
of Walt Whitman's ghost, or was it Blake's ghost,
immaculately inseminating Yoko Ono.
Yoko had the abortion.
Ginsberg had me, or was it John's ghost.
Pass the hookah, love, my next poem
will be really something, I promise you.)

Sid Vicious is Dead, Tony, It'll Never Work

That knock on the door must be Tony Bennett,
flown in from Vegas to tell me
he's heard the Sex Pistols are reforming
and he wants to audition.
Excuse me while I let Tony in.

Tony, nice to see you.  How's Frank?
You've heard the Sex Pistols are reforming
and you want to audition.
You've left your Sex Pistols sheet music in San Francisco.
I had a Sex Pistols tape,
except I swapped it for an idea.

Tony, don't leave, there's a curry on the stove
and I've got a good bottle of red.


We sit by the lake at a small table.
I take a spoonful of porridge
and flick it into the lake.

It's warm.
Next Thursday I'm going to employ an unemployed electrician
to cook us a large breakfast.

Cleaning out the house the unbelievable--
six big packets of oats
found under the bed.

We are now able to eat porridge,
and laugh, and sing, and flick spoonfuls into the lake.

From Deep Wings (2004)

The Power of Birds

To have the power of birds.
The rapture, the deceit
of today gnaws darkly.
Six days for this.
To have the word, the dawn.

Each layer grows warmer
with the power of birds,
spiralling away from the tunnel.
Let the insects eat,
be carried, unworthy as us.

We dine on the power of birds.
Feast on their sacrifice.
Let there be hail,
since hail is a plague
already flown away.

When the first dawn comes,
vast and cold and peeled
of everything but the power of birds,
our laughter will finally answer,
finally justify things like birds.


Do not be afraid of water,
learn how it flows
over the river stones.

Hold hands and dance
before the water, look
upwards as the birds
fly between the clouds.

Learn to love your flesh,
its nearness, with water
flowing from your soul.

And in the many nights
do not ever be afraid,
terrors are river stones,
over which water flows.


After the Renaissance

in Venice
the bridges are crumbling

an enlightened man
suggests they use rainbows

no architect
can get the dimensions right

From Three Hundred and Sixty-four Paper Boats (2007)


Is the most profound word in the world.

You realize this
when your sinking boat
is pulled under
by a 530 lb swordfish.

Respect the gargoyle that said
'Any dialogue is injury.'


Have you ever visited Northampton?
Perhaps I have -- it feels like it.
A heath, a motorway, a cathedral,
and me somewhere there, alone.
It is cool and sunny,
the sky is familiar.

This may not have happened:
I walk across the motorway
and enter the cathedral.
A pregnant woman kneels, praying.
When she rises, I see she is
my mother, pregnant with me.

Sonnet Irreducible

If life irreducible.
Heaven dips nothingness on water
perfected in foetal absolution, quiet,
movement, variable flight.  Of clouds--

and this, this day, purloined still and beautiful,
awoken into sun and young children,
irreducible moments leaving for tomorrow, sky,
a cloud vaster than cloud; somehow, slipping.

And in this quiet fragment being, a joy--
of autumn, a solidity of stone falling
caught and brown; quiet.
Soft, real, eaten, a breath of numbers
brown, downy, paddling, given thus
I drink, white, life, again and other.

             May 10, 1999

From Ultramundane Shadows (2008)

The Past

I found a pearl, &
all the windy walk to my shed
I grieved

for all the oysters I had eaten.


I found a shell, &
as the offshore wind hollowed me
I silently prayed

for all the forsaken fishermen.


I found an involvement, &
its fear its music its fabulous mountains
I left behind

for a quest to assay the ocean.


I found a quatorzain, &
the depths of what is left unsaid.

Concerto for Electric Violin & Heartbeat

On another note, she took his breath,
rich with the rhythms of the ocean, and
threw it to her best friend, who
was sitting in the concert hall, waiting.

A dimming hum brushes against the audience,
hidden from the music, the all-too-taken things
near the end.

                              *                  *

The concert begins in half an hour.
Inevitably, in the darkness, notes
are passed from hand to hand,
slip through fingers,
inevitably, the last hand holds air.

                              *                  *

Afterwards, we go to a superb Thai restaurant,
with some left, and right, hemisphere regrets.

Out front, the lapping ocean
the world’s most aligned mountain
waiting to be heard.

Quatorzain with a Three-Line Shadow

To the left of mercy, sunlight melts the ice.
We penetrate the cold mystery in the middle of the lake
the irregular expanses of the interior of water.

A storm composes itself from the slipping sky.
The endless skein of cloud shifts northward
into our endless sky.  To equivocate

look at the moon leave the Earth.


Your name rises, glistening, to my skin.
The nineteenth day of February somersaults
from your lips to mine, and we discern

Ripples of sincerity.  Our souls, our humanity,
the petals of our shared character plucked
from the modest ground—the beauty of alchemy

in flight.  Across the water

fashions change, cities sinistrally and clumsily
seek to persuade us of our deity
as in each other's eyes our steps meet.

In the Key of L

Fantastic night, on the threshold
of your tongue – our feeling toward
a slow, intense culmination dipping
like a flight of a
seabird / scything

like an extinct, lost language
we again can speak

like a denouement emerging
from a forest about to flame

like a limpid belief in
the craziness of love.