AFTER MASS

Every other Sunday my Nan says

this dog’s collar is too tight

This is a 24-time-per-annum debate on loan from the last time she outed it

She ploys us all into feeling the underneath of the black leather collar that does in fact fit our dog Pedro

Yeah Nan it is a bit tight that,

you’re right, yeah

She takes it off, feeling the saviour of this poor critter we’ve overfed at the neck, yearly

She’ll watch Countryfile later with me Grandad, will tell him of her heroics after mass in our Marie’s as Matt Baker helps deliver a lamb from a sheep on the Yorkshire Moors wearing a woollen fleece

And then in would my Step Dad come after being out all day to avoid my Nan and say put the collar on the dog before he gets a cold and

yous are missing Countryfile,

yeno?

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BEFALL, BEFELL

Darker nights are coming in

tanned ankles are being hid by simple wool

The full moon sweeps up

reflective eyes and songs of wolves

Wind will carry them, as whistles blow

And shoulders are swallowed by crocheted shawls

The moon is nigh’

As is fire and electric light.

How far have we spun from our oaken dens?

From hunting in mud and sleeping in caves

To our detriment; tools for fracking are increasing

Even if we did replace feathered birds with metal ones to carry us

We’ll never, ever learn to fly, or to keep from our tombs

This is ongoing global warming

everyone taking, adding

shoplifters in every (a)isle, cameras watch blind

Panic drips as will regret like an unfed school of fish

in a tarpaulin pond of an abandoned yard

Farewell promise lands, we sobered-drunk with overuse

We’ll be the aliens the filmmakers and theaters warn us of

We’ll be the good guys who didn’t get there in time

Someone cares, hell do I?

I’m drinking rum at/or/with the Buena Vista Social Club

AVANT-GARDEN

Elicit gift of a garden brush

a vesicular heel of over-handled wood,

obsolete without working hands looped

because I’m busy tying knots in the trellis’ rope

for when in bloom

they hold me ope’

Rise then, off-pink Clematis shoot

a street of archers ready to loosen ‘rows,

buds hold patient like hoods to heads

—butterflies—and—bees—pry—

at hedge level height from an ant

the same distance of sky

from the hull of a plane and I

BOWLINE

I’ve driven men away
Into sinking sands with no Way Out

I’ve driven men away
Into overcrowded metaphors;
Heartbreak Hotel, Single AF, My Bachelor Pad

I’ve driven men without being able to drive
with folded eyes to far off skies

Many a mile and many in bloom
from casual drinks to a hotel room
from a gypsophila wedding aisle
I’ve driven men and continue to

This does and is including you,
You, not the only man I’ve forced away
the only one I hoped would
s t a y

MORNING ROUTINE

Face skinny dips into water
gathered in the sink

Sky jigsaws into leaves
of the purposely-obscured bathroom windows

Damp light begins to wake night
They merge like the pocket-of-air under an accordion skirt or a jellyfish rowing through the sea

Shrinking stars support a toenail clipped moon
soon exhumed by the sky’s deep in thought blue

She hates her job
Until lunchtime
Until home-time

RED SEA

They eroded like sedimentary rocks

He was heavy rain that wore her down

She was crystal forming in place of abrasion

poppy among shrapnel

After seasons of his wicked weathering

She forged a black hole in her brain’s limbic system

Where memories are made, scientists say

She buried him alive in the sink hole of her mind

In it everything they ever did

Every thought, every glimpse

Except for the three kids

A billion seconds later,

She shut the door to his easy shelter

It takes one second of one billion

To find the graphene-hard gristle

a heart of courage

To lose mental torture

and the man responsible

To walk barefoot through the broken glass

To walk barefoot through the broken past

To walk so far, she won’t look back

SEA HOLLY OF LITTLE LONDON

How can one city be another?

I swear that I was there

In this place but feeling there

Miles from the real thing

London commuted into me

The live nostalgia I reeled

angling in, some make believe

That the streets beneath my feet

were southerly

O bell that chimed at quarter past

Was an Elizabethan Royal clock

The passing people passed

With Southern bags from Southern shops

Tourists, tourists

But all the Scousers, no longer Northern

For a moment on Bold Street

I felt the energy of a capital city hosting me

While peeking into eateries

Perhaps it could be Paris that I’m feeling?

Friday night, December 1st

People without plans and those who’d reserved

Students, couples, family, friends

and I’m alone in Liverpool

Ode to be England’s capital