Black stone soft to carve
beads, ornament, brooches.
Stone, fine and intricate,
to wear, to revel in,
and slowly break.
Below gull torn skies
in the fishing town,
by Staithes, under quayside sails,
the sharp glitter, a dark rainbow
Night flowering, a perennial glow
of east coast darkness, the poet-monk
Cherry Stones for Kate
Tinker, Windsor castle,
Tailor, Savile Row,
Soldier, head of regiment,
Rich man - very rich man,
Poor man - more's the pity.
Beggar man, beggars belief,
which of you will be the thief?
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor
Every marriage is a failure
yet marriage is a common fate.
These are cherry stones for Kate.
Poemcatcher Royal Wedding book, poem collected at StAnza in St Andrews
A Scots Family,1999
The young man, leaving by air,
a brisk wave at the turnstile,
a safe arrival on a sandy airstrip
where dawn and dusk are regular all year.
His sister, in London,
one among hordes of pretty postgraduates
picking fruit and books at charing Cross,
not yet ready to return.
And now their parents,
suddenly not so young,
locking their car and walking down a pavement
very slowly to the polling station.
The Dance Hall (for Christopher Barnes)
The dance hall was closed
and converted to cinemas.
A niche film was showing.
The two gay guys,
the only audience, seated
in one of the numbered auditoriums
along the blank corridor
sloped like forgotten foyers,
decided to jump in their shiny shoes
and dance to the soundtrack,
a new event, unseen, unknown,
unadvertised. They brought the Astoria
fleetingly back to life
from its old, sleeping decades
of glitter and decadence
back here to breath, steps, sighs.
2010 [recorded at Chicago Calling 2011]
The incunabula of television,
Crystal palace, lipstick and clipped tones,
Muffin the Mule, then finally the flicks
crammed into tubes, inferior Bibles, cloned,
invaded all our evenings. Television
will kill the cinema! doom-pundits cried,
erroneously. We, mesmerised, pie-eyed,
in small square post-utility sitting rooms,
witnessed the small square triumph of the box,
Stevenson's toy theatre, exaggerating life.
Coach became pumpkin at eleven o'clock,
rooms shrank, books closed, bare remnants of the plot.
Goodnight. Remember to switch off your set.
The screen collapsed into a small white dot.
Split Screen (Red Squirrel Press)
from Anderson's Piano: Cruachan: derailed train
A rare red rose bloomed for a week in June.
Perhaps it saved the lives of those
who came unharmed from the rock-tripped train
high above deep water in Argyll
where the long loch is death's wake deep
and the wild rose blooms in a canyon,
the rare red wild June rose.
Late light of June, lasting almost
all night, they file at evening's end
in a forced trudge to Cruachan,
tracks empty and safe as houses,
this desolate dedicated railroad
five miles or more from all houses
but how lucky, here's Cruachan,
power station under the mountain
of caves and a visitor centre,
bread and soup and a small first aid box,
a flare of yellow light in the dusk,
[...] Read more
On The Early English Poem The Ruin
Mile-wide ruin of a city,
ruin of a town,
told tales fragmented,
your lost poet foiled,
his ruined poem
once whole on vellum, torn,
blackened to earth,
shrunk into microfilm.
Bath was the city
that bred bright balladry,
a rumoured recital,
rare fresh-inked flower.
Rime in the mortar,
rime on the broken tiles,
gold on flashing water,
fragment of a world.
[...] Read more
Via the pole, I look down to the angled view from the wing,
and wonder I let myself in for this adventure of words.
Once the action took over I was shepherded into the plane.
Here I am in a prison cabin bound for Chicago.
Comfort-crushed at the airport, collectors at the gates,
I parade into the unknown on a passenger walkway,
still reeling from the photographic panorama of the skies,
descended down beside skyscrapers grouped like circles
at Stonehenge or Callanish against the background of water.
This is the religion of the city, these structures herd
artists and workers from all origins, to places they may eat,
dance in or marvel at, others they will avoid, among
and through the life-giving stones, asking them for words
and lines of songs. I bring mine in propitiation.
Among the dark trees these in autumn prime
rise under empty skies/Let colour leaven
the shadowed woods I wander through in time.
Red oak and bright sweet chestnut spread sublime
rich canopies for jay or squirrel, woven
among the dark trees, these. In autumn prime,
acorns and prickly chestuts challenge rhyme,
pale cases and their gilt-speared leaves enliven
the shadowed woods I wander through. In time,
late summer chills the landscape. As I climb
words dropp like a snow-warning, white as heaven
among the dark trees. These in autumn prime
their measures with the season, pulse and mime
and fall in hasty turbulence, panic driven
from sahdowed words I wander through. In time
[...] Read more
Circular Weather Girl Poem
She probes the wintry weather, her voice oiled
and golden, warns of the violet-hued storm,
reports the deluge flooding yard and lawn
like a spring haiku thawing icicles.
She points to where the cherry blossoms fall
that still lie wrapped in cherry leaves, the wall
waiting to be hidden by leaf and blob.
A goddess, or a sort of priest with sisters
she waves away the Atlantic squall: she deals
in chance percentages of rainy blusters
born in the doldrums, off Biscay or Faroe.
her every isobar travels through a spring
of butterflies - Gauguan dreams, Pissaro
or Botticelli Floras riding bicycles.
She is the weather girl, our newest myth,
our crowned queen, Cinderella, our blind date.
She comes to life when Barbie dools in moonlight
have lesbian affaris with women graduates.
[...] Read more