Saluting Magpies

Poetry in Motion


estranged, we bid each other

splitting then
different directions home
different homes
different lives.

as fate would fiddle
we finished
in glass compartments
of opposite tracks.
waving stupidly
in the slack –

fifteen years.

ending only
in this lonely, late


Cours particulier

he had pretty paperclips
to hold the sheet music

i remember
the touch and the feel
of the instrument.

my fingers were never expert
but if you learn young enough
the music will master itself.

unlike the musician
teaching for pleasure;
the touch,
and the feel,
of the instrument.

major, to minor.
my fingers were never expert
i would fumble with the paperclips.


the picking up of half-done puzzles
would so much quicker be,

if puzzle-makers packaged puzzles
in boxes without need

of holding open with one hand
while filling with the other

doubling the time it takes
from night-night to the sofa.

why do puzzle-makers add such devilry
is almost a moot question;

parents do not have the answer:


We listened to Florence and the Machine
Over, and over, and over again
With the moment and the music
It all seemed to mean
something again

My love, the moment and the music
must end, and always do
leaving ordinary stories
and our ordinary glue.
two paupers stirred by others’ lyrics
yet these are penned in their own image.


up high.
too high
what started as wonder
has caught her
under her skirts
now holds her
or doesn’t.

at her feet
a path, become parapet.
two sheets
to the wind
listing, now.

he is talking. faster
realising – wait –
but surely the words,
like his hands,
must reach her –

in time;
that is how he will render it.


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.

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