Saluting Magpies

Poetry in Motion



Molière’s tongue

mes amis,
lites ceci
ah – vous disez, lisez?
et quoi encore –
ça se dit dites,
pas de e-z?

bon, d’accord,
je m’excuse (m’auto-pardonne)
on fait de notre meilleur
pour plus bien parler –

du french-bashing
(mais ce ne serait pas un peu cherché ?
avec vos parkings et brushings
et footings et fair-play)

oui, entre le verlan et le chi’ti
et l’amuse-bouche d’en-on-an
la mission est périlleuse
mais nous l’acceptons

l’impossible n’étant,
(selon vos légendes)

pas du tout français.

the (door) knob

they come
in all shapes and sizes.
there are some
who will always do us
a good turn. bless them.

and then there are others –
in every household.
delicate handling

to budge.

generally single-purpose,
they would yet claim
some mastery of the universe.
without me,
where would you be?

better off, I think,
let’s kick the door down
and see.

Wheeler dealer

Trick, or treat?
Depends on spin:
vote remain
vote leave
vote again.

is it a done deal,
a none deal,
the will of the common people
or collective defeat?

(Brussels sprouts nonsense
foreigners’ federalism
imposing the migrants
and well-bent bananas.
take back control –
we shall never surrender!)

no. but do you see the flowers
which finally grew, atop the trenches?
peace in our time:
or die, in a ditch.

tunnel vision

C’est une vie
C’en était une autre
Le va-et-vient qui s’en va,
Sans qu’on rende
s’en rende,

Et alors
On s’arrête. étonnés
Par cette vie que l’on pensait
sa chose,
sa mainmise

elle ne t’appartient plus
Il aurait fallu la choyer
Il aurait

the blue tit

early evening
rich-nation country
a nice bit of France
well-to-do quartier

a woman is parking.
parallel universe!

difficult créneau
(I know from experience
my street is narrow
and so are the spaces).

impatient to pass
the driver behind her
blares his horn, raging,
t’es sûre d’avoir le permis?

connard, press hard
on that accelerator
going nowhere else fast –
the macho-man’s satnav.


I will give you
whatever of forever is given me.

If we were five
our initials would have been
carved in the trunk of the school
courtyard tree.
same penknife to core our apple
walking home, at half-past three

At twenty-five
might our initials have been
merged in mortgages and wedding rings?
and smaller versions of ourselves
hazily conceived

At forty-five
we have made our initials our own.
dusty from celibacy, but –
enlace me,
into late stories of love-making

and I will give you
whatever of forever is given me.

pet project

didn’t expect to see a crocodile
a headless one, at that
mostly when one passes windows
(occasioning to glance up)
one sees plants or clocks
or disdainful cats,
peering back.

hurried as I was that morning
I did not stop to ask
the reason for the crocodile
of the occupants of the flat.

the question was incongruous
would the answer have been so?
if, indeed, reply forthcoming
(owners absent; sod off; dunno)

better left as later musings
to occupy one’s mind
reptiles in suburban windows –
’tis a wild, wild life.

Fruit of the loom

she had a tote bag draped over her shoulder
it said, in proud black block-print letters,

rosy heart, in place of a noun.

little fingers making cotton tote bags
in far-off, who-cares foreign places
for far-off, who-cares foreign women.

child labour
draped over our shoulders;

rosy heart, in place of the noun.


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

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