Norfolk

Clouds the size of minor planets,
Cumulonimbuses, and expanding;
Cirrus sunsets mesmerising.
You can tell as we approach
The coastline, you can smell
On a breeze rocksalt and diesel
Even before you see creaking
Metal shop signs, rust flakes
Concealing their meanings.
Intrepid starling squadrons,
Nimblest swifts and swallows;
Birthplace of tsarist pretenders
And far greater adventurous sailors.
You can see these fields of rapeseed
And mustard from space
And if we had our way
We would paint the whole world
For just one day in yellow.
Warblers and wayfarers,
Farmers of the Seas,
Accents as broad as a snoring giant
By folklore kept in Cromer’s cliffs;
At times ineffable, I can hear
My own inflections veer
From North back into the East,
Comfortable as hands in midwinter
Mittens, this never-ending
Friendly vernacular.
Raindrops do not stop
Wrens and finches singing
In a land without misgivings;
Expert chefs with epaulettes,
Neither judgment nor regrets,
And in her epicentre there are
Markets blessed, cathedrals and
A Kingfisher Spirit winding.
Time is slower here,
And though everything has changed
So too has nothing,
For I thought as a child
With those clouds in exile
I could not ever perceive
Bluer skies or as widened,
And though I am ancient
And travel-weary from hills,
That child is yet to be denied
And he is proven still.

I threw my bones out the window
From a room where I once slept,
Photographs abounding
With our divorced and dead.
You know when they’re getting older –
Dust thrives most unchecked;
Dead flies and curdled milk;
There are spiders the size
Of your clenched-up fist
Within their potting shed;
They can readily fall asleep
With nodding heads
By 8.15p.m.

Their Labrador died recently,
Her third leg went,
And I felt that it was palpable,
The quiet blanketing silence
Like a black pall of snow
Over this whole house;
Instead of friendly greetings
There’s a tough wringing
Out of untrustworthy Time
To dry on a washing line
By copper-clad clock hands,
And as a musty tablecloth
Hosts marmalade unopened,
So too the inevitable jar
Of last year’s home-made jam.

On Homelessness

There is much to be said
For a warm, downy bed,
And a roof for my head.

In truth, those cold stars
Kill men with their draught;
Stratospheric, crystal glass.

I knew a man who died that way,
On a bench rain-soaked
In a well-loved park;

Several cars had slowly passed,
Narrow tailgate margins;
I didn’t have the heart.

He started somewhere far apart;
So much at sea drifts
Listlessly from where our hands

With a planetary love did chart,
Yet Truth has no use for straw
Or for bars, nor Justice, too,

Constantly miscarrying,
She chews on rue like
An ancient Appalachian goat

And her rivers are in my bones
And bath. In the long grass
I lay there waiting, in hiding,

Until the shadow of my self
My life, flew slowly,
Silently above those hills,

A giant airborne stingray,
Inexplicable, mythical,
I cried at the sight of my

Childhood loss. Returning
To my humble shed from roaming
Through my gloaming spirit-loft,

There is much to be said
For a warm, downy bed,
And a pillow for the lonely.

Limehouse Song

There are many communions
I did not expect,
A dog with feathers,
A heart of regrets.

Paddling pools,
Halls of frogs,
In the smoke
From limehouse logs.

Rainy days will bless,
Invigorate no less
Both my souls
And Wapentake, yes.

There are many confessions
I did not expect,
From Dover Sole drizzle
To waters north of dear Inverness.

Step Across

Your room
Perfectly preserved,
Just the way you
Last observed it;
Same duvet cover,
Same sash.
Your favourite band
In a poster, yellowed
By the years, an empty
Glass on a bedside table,
An undisturbed pack
Of fears.
Sometimes I draw open
White chiffon curtains
But it’s still too bright,
Even this far removed,
Our eyes adapt
To darkness, as if
All of time
Is night.

A bookmark,
An elastoplastic strip,
Outside your window
A satellite dish.
We were such materials
In the continuity
Of loss. Sometimes
I wished and convinced
Myself that you would
Step across that threshold,
I’d hold you, the hug
To end all that could
Have been better defined,
But some things are not real,
And some are only crimes.

Pareidolia

Pelagic frogfish
In the sky,
Captured by a satellite.

Religious icons are
Baptised
In bathroom tiles.

Cumulonimbus heights
Before a storm
Transformed to toads

And turtledoves
High above
The dreams of love

I found in your words,
As comforting to me as
Waves on the coast,

The sound and scent
Of my homeland.
Have I learnt nothing,

For I yearned to return
To your love, but all
I find beachcombing

On the edge of the ocean,
My sand-swept existence,
Though frantically I search,

Are flotsam thoughts,
Are the rusting returns
Of briny whelks on the keel

Of a boat, a vessel battered
By strife and winds and surf,
Messageless bottles,

A raucousness of seagulls
Being seagulls,
Conches and shells

In the foams
Of the moment
Seem like conches and shells;

The waves resurface
Their childish driftwood gifts
Offered up at my feet,

How the mind plays tricks
On a desolate beach
To rekindle itself.