Saluting Magpies

Poetry in Motion


Berlin did it, 61-89
And Brexit might do it.
Humpty Dumpty falls off, hard or soft.

Donald wants one
for his American dream
a national emergency! southern insurgency!
(build it up,
with iron and steel?)

In my new garden I want one too.
Some nice tall fences
To shut out the neighbours
love them as one must –
an Englishwoman’s home
is her castle, remember
(planning permission is in
for the moat).


admits one

been waiting in the cold a while
a doorstep ornament.
trying not to look, nor look as if,
I might be trying to peer in

paranoia. just me to see me here
these are misted windows.
curtains for a conversation
I’ll hear second-hand, third person

front door, stage door, exit only
swiftly shut, like all good endings.
all ready then? you say,
still smiling. rhetorical question –

no choice but to stand here waiting
when not invited in
no choice but to follow you away again
and pretend I didn’t peer in.

out of the night

My daughter sat in a box this evening
pretending it was a ship
captain as yet of her impatient soul
mistress still, of her fate

I looked at the box when she was sleeping
picturing, if I once more might fit,
whence would I glide in my cardboard empire –
which pirates and treasure would await

away from this land of imprisoned grown-ups
whose days do not tolerate dreams
map-reading blind, with faulty compass;
making the best of our worst-laid plans.

The Bigamist

‘I couldn’t be without him’
there is such certainty.
adamant, ad-amant.
a superlative
turning question into statement
at what – why, at any price.

must it be so unconditional,
my love,
must it?
passion is not lived in a vacuum.
forsaking all others
but some prior claimants
are born of our own flesh and blood.

the heiress

define silent –
certainly not golden.
constant interruptions
wallclocks, plumbing
sounds we never heard
curling up for the evening

certainly not golden.
do i clatter so, to stir the children,
hoping for occupation in noisy scolding?
what are you doing out of bed
you have school in the morning –

they sleep on. faces smoothed
by sweet night visions
simple needs met
constant inconscience

not golden. no,
unless fool’s gold
then I want for nothing:
you promised me so.

the accomplice

the hands lifting the window-shade
do so gently, but firmly.
I am either half-asleep
or half-awake
kept in one or the other
by these coworkers.
disturbed, but – in this heat –
barely. the window-shade
is a puppet. buffeted, each time,
just those few inches:
enough to defeat its only purpose
seemingly with little protest.


I must do the washing-up
never the other way round
never the plates and dishes, saying
‘We’ve got this, Kate – sit down.’

unholy matrimony

The Economist slides to the floor
and on Radio 4
the news has blurred –

into religious hour,
falling on deaf ears.

what would their maker
make of them,

Sunday morning liberal lovers
Tea growing cold
Outside the covers.


More like war-making:
what a mess.
just as good
but back-of-mind, there’s

pain, stains, if
automobile; hence
dark towels readied
to over-bed-spread.

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