Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Solstice!

As promised, here's the second of them two poems I promised. Still haven't thought of a title. The lines should be staggered slightly, Mark Doty-style, but you'll have to use your IMAGINATION.

The music is skipping, then the radio
goes livid with interference. The waiter tinkers
with it briefly, then leaves it to its silence.

The tea is nut-brown and body-hot and on the wall
on what passes for a mantlepiece
is a mug, some candles, a wooden

mule, a vase with purple-black flowers
and above that the painting that caught
my attention: a single raven

silhouetted against something like
twilight, the oyster-blue of dawn or just after
sundown, between two splintered trees

and another raven half-
lurched into shadow. The first raven
- centre stage, our raven -

is peeking back across its shoulders at some
signal maybe, maybe some threat. No sign of you
yet, and in a minute you'll be late. It's nearly dawned

on me that ravens' eyes are on the sides
of their head, the whole body at an angle
when a draught shifts the fire of the candles

on the mantle and there you are
with your hair raven-black and silhouetted
against the silvery dusk outside the door

Thanks for reading,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yesterday there was snow

I have a poem to show you! And another one that will come either tomorrow or Monday, depending on when I next get to a computer. Neither of them have titles yet.

She is watching for you from the tree-house.
Judging by the tulip-blackness of the sky,
the corona of moonlight, you are late.
The ginseng root in your hand has come alive,
and when you touch the tree with your other hand,
too patched and grubby to live, and all this
luminous scrub, these overdone set-props
seem too flat, too farfetched, will you filter

back to life where her snoring fills the morning
as if she's angry to have missed it,
and all things seem connected to that
one abrasive sound that breaks from dream,
because air would no sooner meet your lungs and leave
and not believe your body something sacred

than you would stop her goddamn snoring.
How can desire live in what's perfected? Root
yourself in the pillow, the wet jewels of her sweat,
when there is nothing between you
but the bundles and nooks
of the blankets and a little human sleep.

Thanks for your patience, it's been a while.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


As promised, there is a brand new poem coming your way in just over four sentences. Also, if you are reading this today (27th of October 2009) or tomorrow morning, then might I invite you to the Bowery, 2 Roxburgh Place, tomorrow soir at 8pm? I think I may just have done. There will be poems and stories and all kinds of lovely drinks in teacups and cocktail glasses. Now it's time for that poem I mentioned!


His cue is the flute.
There’s over a minute to kill, he’s thinking of food:
roast parsnips, turnip mash, all the trimmings
of Thanksgiving and the snacks in the dressing room –
the donuts that are there and the donuts that are not
her, mis-lit by the stagelights in the last rehearsal
and the meat of her limbs lithing in the boudoir
of his dreams, the seams of her crosspatterned dress
yet unable to release the last inches of her svelte
shifting thighs, a faint return of hair to her once-shaven pelt
was the last thing on his mind when the flute
started playing, and, at a loss for a script,
started mouthing
and thinking of nothing

no, now


Thanks for reading, and I hope the formatting for that poem works. Else I shall be sad. The next gap between poems will be much shorter.

Monday, October 26, 2009






here it is


What I learned at Church
is that the body is a Temple
and the Church too is a body,
and I have never been to Jerusalem
but I have touched your body
as the angel touched Jacob
and made him Israel,

and I have never been to Granada
but I have heard Spanish
read from Poet in New York
and with your English tongue
seen you light up like a little town
beneath where a star hung

like the carvings in Yorkminster
of the broad-tongued heads
with wide eyes and fig leaves
or oak leaves or banana leaves
or just leaf litter through their hair

though I have never spoken
in tongues or knelt before an altar
or carved pagan good-luck charms
in your Temple, your new-found land.

And there's another one tomorrow! :O
Thanks for still reading,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Whheeeeeeeeelll I'm done. Portfolio handed in and switched to relax/watch the athletics/play guitar hero mode. To mark the occasion, here is the last poem that I added to the manuscript.

Little Lucifers

The night is over and a gull has abandoned
a pigeon’s collarbone, or its splintered thigh-bone.

It skitters and skites by the daybreak lunette.
I am only a guest in my fourth-storey flat.

Did it see me behind the grey-clouded glass?
Did it have me in mind when it tore from the carcass?

Is there another bird so human as a seagull?
At the foot of the stairs is the bearable hell

of bottles, polystyrene, a pair of black heels
and a coven of gulls like the Morningstar’s angels.

Having balanced our garbage at the edge of the kerb,
I hear the screamed half-laughter of birds.

I will return soon. Thanks for reading,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

wahoo hoo hoo

Look at widdle Wolvie there. So happy to be lobotomising that fishdude. With his disturbingly pregnant-looking bicep.

Another poem today, a reworked version of an old poem, as per the norm. I am massively hungover having slept on my own sofa last night. On the other hand I think I'm just about done with my portfolio!


This means that after the next three or four updates I'll be taking a fair old break from the blog. Hopefully not too long, though, and I plan on coming back with a vengeance. As for now, I'm going to crawl back into bed, or just into the warm, welcoming bosom of that corner over there. Bad times.


No gulls flock at the horizon.
Unadvancing, unreceding,
hiding riches in its folds.
My boat glides in a wash of stars.

The water has hoarded loam
and other shields from light.
The moon’s torn reflection
runs in a line from my feet.

Minerva, grey-eyed Athene,
there is no sweetness
in this grey serenity.

Send head-turning winds,
send rollicking water,
send earth to dirty my feet.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Edinburgh is currently full of needy, desperate twats like these hilarious people. No particular offense to them, they were just the first ones I found on google. Anyway, the whole city is swollen and bloated with talentless people making tits of themselves for £12/hour. Amazingly it is also full of people willing to pay for it. I'd been looking forward to the Fringe for some time and I struggle to remember the last time I was so disappointed.



Poem to ease the pain. More tomorrow.

The Bridge

If I should lose myself in sleep and find myself
out of body and floating above the ocean,
may tidal winds take my nightshirt like a man-o-war
and make my mooring-place the Brooklyn Bridge,

and because this is a dream, let the bridge
stay empty and so broad New York dissolves in mist,
let one ship drift in below like a lily pad
on a sea turned doldrum-calm and silent enough

that I could whisper and still be understood
by the young man calmly discarding his suit-coat
and leather shoes and mounting the guard-rail,

and as he falls I will scream it is a joy to have a body
and as the sun rises on the bridge’s pitch-black rivets
let it catch a lily pad that blooms and quickly withers.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Edinburgh-related kind of ish

Another poem, a day late. Time flies.


Put in mind of a rollicking bonfire
we kindled with handfuls of bracken,
and our drowsiness in its quilting light,
I invite you to leave the rumpus and racket
of the city’s summer liturgy of flames,
to leave a legion of groping arms,
to leave behind even your blood-red
body-paint, your coal-black face-paint,
to find the burnt-out spot from last night
and to impress once more with our presence
the home of migrant barnacle geese,
oystercatchers, this perpetual sunrise.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

nom nom

The cricket is back on! There's a very slim chance that England could win this one - they need to make a high score (500?) and skittle the aussies (can they get all 10 in two sessions?), but it'll likely be a draw. Still, there's been some decent batting, though they've been making a score then getting out cheaply far too often. On the other hand, a 1-0 lead going into the last two isn't a bad position.

Poem? Poem.

Two Days Later

Don’t offer to store your squeeze’s junk.
Don’t schlep a scanner through town,
the cables are fried, you’ve nothing to scan.
Before you borrow her Rimbaud and Rilke
green-light-it that they’re both translated
and legible. By all means take the wine.
But for the love of Saint Christopher,
don’t unfold the neat green throw that holds
the red-wool plaits from her hair as the air
of her scent expires, packed in a grip with a snap
of her smiling, as grateful are you are to be found.
Don’t be surprised if you wish you’d taken more.

Another tomorrow, then a break. Thanks for reading,

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Here's a real-life panel from Action Comics #377

Yep, it's time for a whole new month of fresh material. Hand-in date for the final project is the 21st of August, so expect a fair bit of new stuff in the upcoming three weeks, then a good long sabbatical from writing bizniz. For now, here's a completely new poem.

The Night Before

Your hold was as strong on my arm
as mine was round your belly and breasts
when I woke in the night and, still dreaming,
saw a face between your pillow and hair
and made a noise like the heart inhaling
that half-woke you. The roll and rise
of your rest grew shallow, then crept back
like a cat or peaceful breeze. Your hold
was strong on my blood-numb arm.
I held my breath and dozed until dawn.

New poem tomorrow,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Check out me and my face at the SPL blog! Also this poem that I made!

Better Words

hear the melody of names
blood-streams incantations
sound them like a spell

shearwater meadow brown
cormorant yellowtail

go topless in saltwater
feel the blaze in the eyes

the breeze tangling your hair
fingers tangled in your hair

palmfuls of horse chestnut
explosions of jackdaws
love and grassy jeans

witch-hazel valerian
ragged robin lady’s bedstraw

god or a thing
for which there is no better
word than god

the word that says there is one life
and we are in it

on your tongue
and spreading like petals
in the palms of your hands

is this dwindling list of flowers
may it be forever autumn

One more tomorrow...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mo Poems Mo Problems

I've moved flat! It is lovely and overlooks the quiet(er) end of the Royal Mile. I have also been busy and I will share with you the products of my business.

Here's an old poem re-written to fit better with modern times.


It wasn’t the way the tree lit up
like a blush in the bay window,
or the way its arms spread like a household god,
glowing green and content with his work,

it wasn’t the way it pressed on the glass
that pressed against the darkest nights in winter,
or how at times it was less tree than beacon,

nothing is ever that simple. It wasn’t even the way
that by the solstice, the fairy lights my sister left
flickered like the embers and ashes in the fireplace,

then stopped, or the way my father and I
half-filled the half-lit house with midnight rites
over the burnt offering of the adapter, but
the likeness of the lights that burned on our eyes

then burned a little longer.

More tomorrow? Yes. More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


So Quianna made me some cupcakes. They were good. Poem good.


This is a cupcake, not a muffin,
muffins have no icing
– this has enough in

to make a grown man saccharine, or at least
a more excitable beast. This palm-span feast

of heavy cream, shortening, sugar and butter
and eggs and god-knows-what has me shudder-

ing across the line where words begin to falter,
where desire holds sway. The glisteny way the water-

lily-white frosting is bursting with the lush
insistence, here I am, its brush-

stroked largess and malleable lines
looming beyond its papery confines

and stippling, drippling from your skin-bare
wrists, enlarge your curlicue smile as you declare

here you are.

No poems tomorrow. I don't know what I'm gunna do.
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Poem For Your Eyes And, Maybe, Your Heart

Time for a quick blog: director's redux of an old old poem.


I’d clocked it earlier and not realised,
the chubby stroller on the loch-shore, duck-like
and energetic in flight, was the same oystercatcher
I’d imagined or remembered years before,

for whose thin bill I’d confused a cormorant portrait,
for whose chunky flanks I’d muddled a lanky heron’s
scything lift off. Now it sat, dumpy and peaceful
and bobbing to the ripples that tripped across the loch.

A corridor of hedgerows opens onto the rocks
and sand dusting the spray
– so I’d written –
as the oystercatchers loiter in the shallows,
waiting for the water to offer its secrets.

Yeah, right. This one was loath to wet its feet.
As I inched towards the water, it turned
its head, showing its remarkable profile,
or just turning. I froze with a squelch.

It opened its wings like a shrug. “Oystercatcher?” it said.
“Yeah, right.” It sloothered leisurely away.
When I told this story later, no one believed it,
or no one said they believed it.

Thanks for reading, more tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Above: Another great comic from Nedroid Check it out!

SO I promised more poems and by gum that's what you're going to get. No more shilly-shallying from me. Also, if you're reading this on the 14th of July, come to the Bowery tomorrow! There will be a load of fine poets and poems.

FYI that was dilly-dallying.




Now that I’ve finished cleaning
all that’s left to clean away

is a jumbo tub of lemon Cif,
the meadow-sweet Febreze and Glade

Plug-In, a freshly-rustled bustle
of pot-pourri and Mr Muscle.

Perhaps it’s only the scented candles –
Camomile, Sage and Citrus, Evening Air –

but I am a child again
in my parents’ house, stamping dirt

and god-knows-what across the carpet
and my mother tuts and clicks and hauls

me to the kitchen sink and soaks
my fingers clean beside the feeding ferns –

Peace Lily, Narcissus, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue –
the scent of being young

and being one more thing to clean
is stronger now than it’s ever been.

See you tomorrow,

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tycho Brahe Is Too Hot For TV

Above: the funniest comic book frame of all time?

Three news poems coming up, stay tuned. This one is about a chap called Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer who studied Copernicus and taught Kepler. He lost his nose in a duel and wore a gold one to parties. He was one kickin' rad 16th century noble. There's an old pseudo-Donne love poem I tried to write that incorporated him, but it didn't work. So I handed the stage to Tycho.

How Tycho Brahe Made The Sky

The stars are laid out like a glowing stage
on the papers that litter his workbench.
Tycho is trying to see the whole picture.

He has grown old in observations,
spherical and uncertain and alone tonight.
Tycho places his pen on the workbench.

Outside, the night is quiet as a dead thing.
Mice, maybe. Maybe owls. The wind.
The stars are all laid out

like white specks on a huge black workbench.
This much is true: the stars wander,
Jupiter orbits the sun. But the sun

must orbit the earth, that much
is true. Tycho studies his papers,
tries to see the whole picture.

The stars are laid out like a story,
like a joke by whatever lies
behind them. His apprentice doubts him,

his skill, his work, his world.
But the world is too sluggish, too different
in essence to start working now.

Tycho takes his pen and looks outside.
The stars are laid out like the stars
on the papers that litter his workbench.

He steps to the window, bellows
at mice, maybe. Maybe owls. The wind.
The stars are all laid out.

Tycho tries to see the whole picture.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 06, 2009

Better Late

Gosh time certainly flies. I have sent off more copies of my chapbook with special messages inside.

This one didn't really work on blogger because it has some fancy formatting that blogger wasn't happy about. So I'm going to try attaching it as a picture because I am on the BLEEDING EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY.

[click for larger image]

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Dammit Federer

Andy Roddick is my champion.

I promised more poems so here is the fulfilment of that promise. One that has been pretty thoroughly reworked. Thanks to RVW for the first line.


We were twins when she took my arm –
diabolists, naked dancers, a rucking swarm

clambered into sundown-spattered air
and I stared at her, my head stirred –

when I was there to see, to be her first kiss
and she was with me at home every Christmas

and her voice was the earth, so was mine,
and her mouth met the earth that was mine

and on her tongue that was every river
and the puddle we tripped over or nearly over

were the motions of every dance,
every dancer, street light and bar light

and in the shifting light of a new year
her tawny eyes, her Indias of spice, cold silver,

looked down at the feet that were not my feet
then the eyes that were only mine, and yet –

even as each door of our twin cells closed
and the sky paled to eye-blue over the clothes

we had discarded – I settled down in my casing
and simmered to the accent I still have trouble placing.

Til tomorrow,

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Hey, how's it going? I have been away for an altogether too long length of time. Updates: I have begun my job at the Scottish Poetry Library, working at the front desk! Check out our adventures through poems and cake at the awesometacular Our Sweet Old Etcetera. In other news, The Forest Café have published a beautiful little chapbook of my poems, and a sister-volume of my buddy Fiona Morrison's fiction, which rocks many socks. I have rarely had so much fun as I have had wrapping up and posting things to friends near and far. Whether it's any good or not is nigh on moot.

Other news: I met Jen Hadfield! We talked about creative writing courses and I was an excited fanboy. Doubtless she will soon be blogging about the experience. Also in the month of June, I started reading Charles Simic, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Americans FTW.

Also, the gorgeous Julez embarked with Anna on their mission to make the USA fractionally more awesome. They're intermittently blogging the experience here.

Here's a poem I guess. More tomorrow, and another the day after. RAISE THE FRIGGIN ROOF Y'ALL

How Jackdaw Made The Sky

Crouched among wet leaves
and looking up past streetlights
lining this car park, Jackdaw
waits, wings tucked in,
head tilted toward the tarmac.

Jackdaw’s haunches
clench and release, launching
those few pounds
of flesh, bone and feathers
away from concrete,
away from lamplight.

Feet, yards and faster,
Jackdaw’s wings spread
furlongs and further,
Jackdaw’s wings span
the breadth of the sky,
tearing wing from wing
feather from feather
Jackdaw’s beak
space-black, world-black.

Why shouldn’t the sky be a bird?
There is earth beneath the tarmac,
there is indifference in the stars.

This much is true:
shards of feather will turn
to the black and glinting
winter sky, all the stars
tangled in Jackdaw’s wake.

Hasta mañana,

Friday, May 29, 2009

More exciting times ahoy

Fantastic news! The folks at Forest Publications are publishing a pamphlet of my poems! If the others are anything to go by, this will be one good-looking piece of book. Here's a sneak preview, the new and improved "Descent".


Flying from Glasgow to George Best Airport.
Through the window, knuckles of coastline
reach out beyond the fallow piebald farms.

What to make of the rolling breakers, snow-
white foam? I think of my grandfather
flying from his home to work in Scotland.

He left his son behind to watch the sky.
What to make of the sun split in half
by the horizon? The light lasts longer

at this altitude. And what should I make
of the city where two rivers meet,
this strip of black we will suddenly hit,

the pilot’s lilting “BMI welcomes you to Belfast”?
My wings melt as the black hills drift into view.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Let's Dance or Drum or Windsurf or something

So! More great news, the lovely webzine Spark Bright will publish the old poems "Cat's Eyes" and "Train to London" (which is now called "Trains" and looks different but that is how these things work) in their upcoming second issue. Amazing.

In other news, here's a poem! It is longer than most poems I write because it is secretly two poems.


for Julia


He has fallen in again. His lessons pizzle
into the loch as he straddles the board
and breathes off the dead weight of the wet suit.
The others have blown downwind like Basho’s
folded poems. The sheet sears into his palms
as a jet fighter blazes overhead.

He heaves to his knees and steadies
himself. The rig is heavier
than when he set out. The waves
seem fixed on taking his footing,
even when the wind fills the sail
and crosses the loch like a godwit.

His feet are stuck in place
at the rudder and the burns
in his legs are ignored
as the board lifts over
the sloothering waves,
cutting its own new waves.


She hoicks the djembe over a shoulder and skitters
down the stairwell, the heft of the wood
cutting bruises on her hip. Her palms
have grown callouses from beating tabletops.
She breathes the boom-tic passcodes through her teeth
and shoulders the wash of the breathy rain.

She listens to the rhythm turn
from aerobic blueprint into
something like bloodflow, like fire,
like water, a motion still formed
out of flesh, bones and the mind, yet
expressed with an ease that amazes.

The heat of her palms
where the skin is tight, hard
at the thumbs, is the heat
on the skin of the drum-
head: taut, smooth. It sounds good.
The drum sounds good to her.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Walking on Sunshine

Holy shit! I mean, like, HOLY SHIT! I'm in Pomegranate! Jesus

In celebration, here's a new poem.


When I handled the fine furze
at the back of her fresh-mown head,
sitting on the steps outside our building,
then nodded towards where the sky
had been yellow, then turned rust-red,
then damson, as if any different
from the hundreds of other sundowns
since we met, I couldn’t have imagined
how, weeks later, her eyes would glaze greenly
when I left town for the first time.

When I left town for the first time
we wrote letters like lovers, sent photos,
drafts of poems, postcards, newspaper clippings
as though our removal was only for now
and soon we’d be back in our best get-up
and she’d bubble over and we’d dance
or share a Stella as spring turned around
or sprawl on the grass between lectures
where she’d handle the fine furze at the back
of my head and talk about staying in touch.

Many thanks,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back on the Horse

So portfolio is in and marked and now comes the four-month project I like to call 'write fifteen completely new poems (provided you can find twenty decent old ones)'. Baby steps, people, baby steps. Also thanks to Gwen for being good subject matter.


Some new stars came from dead stars.
Five billion years ago the sun came out,
Ichthyostega grew legs,
Quetzalcoatlus grew wings,
glaciers, rock hungry, moved mountains,
mammoths grew fur and survived.


An old dog with its hindquarters hung
in a wheelchair lurches across a field
after a tennis ball and other dogs
like the golden retriever watching his man
do cartwheels, yoga, juggle batons
between the cycle paths and building sites –
a white crane, a red crane – green-brown
grass under the saltire sky, crossed
with white jet fumes, the jet howling like a baby
in a stripy red romper inspecting
the wild round crinkled buds that burst
from every nook and notch of the old oaks.


My pretty black-haired friend,
I’m glad you joined me under my tree
even for a few minutes with your green
khaki messenger bag and Yorkshire brogue
to look at the hot spring afternoon with me,
even for a few minutes, and to say ‘it’s nice out’,
‘are you coming to the pub later’, and go,
dodging the joggers who have been here forever.


A toddler stamps toward her father
is hoisted to his shoulders and rides away;
swallows swing in the thermals,
jet engines still filtering through the branches,
the evening full of violins.


And the moon, half-meteor, half-earth,
rises opposite the middle-aged sun.

Thanks for reading, expect more soon!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

hello poem how have you been

I've been spending a heckload of time tinkering with an already-completed portfolio and then an enjoyable but time-consuming essay. And I think me and Michael Longley need a bit of time apart. On the other hand, here's my first new poem in a long time, which totally apes him. Woot?

Body Language

Since I will, some day, forget your face
this poem will celebrate your will
to keep talking, your ease in lip-reading
that switched our roles in crowded clubs,
and apologise for the time my hand
hesitated on your hearing aid as my hand
has since hesitated on pierced ears, healed piercings.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poem, news


News! My poem "All Souls' Night" is going to be published in the next edition of Pomegranate.
There is also talk abroad of further readings in future, which I'm not going to jinx by giving details. SO! Here's a poem, about this exhibit.

Menashe Kadishman - Shalechet


You examined maps and counted
unfamiliar coins,
haggled with hostellers
in respectable German.

Jackdaws flitted on the pavement
pecking at apple cores
and brown horse-chestnut leaves,
retreating at our footsteps.


There was silence
in that room,
silent space
and a square
of clarity
three storeys above,
stressing the dust
that settled
on mountains of shoes,
mountains of luggage
chalked with
catalogues of names,
chalk drawing air
from the room
that had space
for more silence.


A jackdaw flapped away as we came to the surface,
apple core in its mouth, into peppery clouds.
Traffic droned in the distance. We walked home.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Change We Can Blog About

So on Wednesday some folks from creative writing put together a poetry/prose night upstairs in the Meadow Bar. The guys did awesome, particularly Natalia, Struan and Niki, who were all doing a public reading for the first time (whoo!). The crowd was lapping that shit up. Honorable mention for Aiko's mad performance skills. I opened with some old poems and a couple of new(ish) ones, one of which is here.


Taking my arm in the simmering buzz
of the crowd, through the diabolo-spinners
and gyring, half-naked drummers,
she led me under canopies
and curtains that climbed into sundown,
staining the air red and purple, stirred
with the neon bar-lights that awoke hot-
humming, weaving charms in the eyes.

Her mid-Atlantic accent melded
with the calls of rucking bodies,
reflecting soundwaves from London
students and New York sightseers;
she tripped among puddles
and the bedlam of dancers, her skin
highlit and spinning away
from my melding mid-British accent.

Once the band sent the crowd re-singing
the setlist through the streets I found her
hands, found her pallor under the moonlight –
her tawny eyes, cold silver, her Indias of spice –
and exchanged nights, eye-freckled and glowing
in the shifting light of a new year,
til our voices reflected in each other’s ears
and she might have been my twin.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I was sure I had more material than I actually do. Shucks. Here's a rewrite of my first ever poem.

Giant’s Causeway

Mist crawled upwards from the surface,
the cluttered sky turned grey and we retired
from tectonic sea and gathering smirr
to a pub you knew. Only the birds knew
what the sea had said, what it kept to itself.

Earlier that morning a hundred feet above the basalt,
I caught my breath and followed you
a few steps behind along the machair.
You gave nothing away as you gathered
palm-sized stones from a cairn by the cliff-face.

I named haresfoot, razorbills, chimney-stacks,
causeway-tales. You sent skimmers over
the cliffs as I yammered, disguising
cover-stories in the tide’s howl and skirl.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Turns out I'm doing okay! Here's a new one based on the Odyssey. That's Sean Bean in the picture, being a legend.



Lacking options, he summons
the weak-necked dead,
hoping for counsel
and direction home
from long-winded Tiresias.

Lacking a spade, Odysseus hollows
out a sump with his sword,
sweetens the soil with honey-wine,
wheat-flour and water.

His mother, Anticleia,
breezes by his elbow
without meeting his eye,
as oblivious to their reunion
as any of the dead.
He reaches out to her
for the first time in years.
His arms pass through her like mist.

Anticleia danders on
among the crowd, still avoiding his gaze
like an embarrassed acquaintance.
With a sacrifice her eyes are opened. Heart
in bloodied mouth, she dithers for words.


Her voice barely holds long enough
to tell the whole sorry tale:
Penelope harassed by lechers;
Telemachus herding pigs;
Laertes nothing but skin and bone
in a miserable gardener’s get-up.
She stretches her ghost arms to his flesh
and bones and glides through them like air.

Odysseus gathers his nerves and speaks,
“What evil brought you here?
Some wasting disease? Artemis’ dart?”
“There was no violence about it, son.
I lost heart waiting for you to come home.”

Strong-shouldered Odysseus stumbles
to his knees and reaches for the hems
of his mother’s robe, which vanish like dew.

See you tomorrow,

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Small poems are fun to write

So in two hours' time I'll be going to a supervisor meeting to see how much work these things need before they turn into something awesome. I'm quite fond of a bunch of them, maybe because they remind me of a good time or someone I like. This one does neither of those things, it is about birds, snow, and seeds.

[Rolling back the blind uncovers]

Rolling back the blind uncovers
a courtyard changed by snow

(last night a loft of pigeons
patrolled a continent of seed,

baiting coal tits or blue tits
that hustled round their hindfeathers,

pecking at the scraps), breath melting
in rorschach blots on the cold glass.

Hasta mañana,

Monday, March 02, 2009


Today's poem asks what could have happened if things had been different.


She looks at him with a tender kind of sadness.
As she walks backward through the closing door
they grow unfamiliar through similar dreams
of things they may some day do. Fingers pulled
together as if by magnetic opposites
recall the times they will warm ill-heated beds,
crooked inside each other like lightning bolts.

Crosses fade from refurling calendars
that survey a systematic withdrawal
of tokens of affection, habits of speech,
a spreading air of innocence as they sleepwalk
into mutual ignorance.
A night will come
when the last rough edges are filed into smoothness,
as lips lean close, then further (much further) away.

Thanks for reading, more tomorrow!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

By golly it's that time again

February has been obscenely busy. BUT it means I've backlogged seven brand new poems for y'all to have a look at. Also Ireland beat England and that makes me happy, even if the game was a lousy kick-a-thon. ALSO the new edition of Read This is available all over Edinburgh, and online here. This is a poem about getting it wrong. Or maybe not.


Sitting elegant above the mantle,
simple as silk, a crafted sword,
he fingers the blade, grips the handle

of beaten iron, as woven and tangled
as the history of his fathers, each of whom had sworn
allegiance on what sits above the mantle.

Renouncing roman decadence, their eagles, furs and sandals,
the chieftain keeps his clansmen, who, at the given word,
will finger the blade and grip the handle

to rout imperial menaces, whose angle
of attack appears absurd.
Sitting elegant above the mantle

is the rapine of his armies, every bracelet, every bangle
further proof – if proof were needed – of the prowess of his horde.
He fingers the blade and grips the handle

of the souvenir he bought in Reykjavík which may dimly hold a candle
to the real McCoy, or Thordarsson, or however it occurred.
Sitting elegant, unsullied, in a crook above the mantle,
he fingers the blade and firmly grips the handle.

See you tomorrow,

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Moving house can be stressful, I hear.

Last pome of three, hope it's been a kickass January.


A short coffin on wheels
raised to rib-height by spider-wire legs
between the pulpit and the rows
of wooden benches.

into the books you’d read
your hard-headed sense of devotion
planning holidays to America
watching costume dramas and The West Wing
eating decades
of sacrifice and stiff-arming self-doubt
through decades
spent herding, corralling young minds.

A poet-saint
worth less faith than you offered
has his last say
on this dry winter morning
you might have loved.

Strange men
from the directors come
to wheel you from the church
in the short wooden coffin on retractable legs
we will later burn.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, January 30, 2009

Steelers v Cards: Superbowl XLIII!

As promised! Movin' flat today.

Riddle: What has two thumbs and an awesome flat?
[points to self with thumbs] This guy.


The CBS broadcasters cut to commercial
as the opening drive goes three-and-out,
and the defense – led by the six-four two-twenty
linebacker in his eighth year out of Syracuse –
mobilizes at midfield, where the hand-poised ball
is torpedoed to the punter whose name
the announcers have yet to fathom,
sent hurtling
end over end
deep into the floodlights
and falling snow – inside the ten, inside the five –
as returning cameras determine
where the next play begins,
where the quarterback sends
his rookie receiver on a fade route
(finding one-on-one coverage wide on the side
the safety wasn’t watching),
the ball arching,
falling across ribbon-white lines, interrupted
by black-gloved hands – complete in open field! –
and carried through an elation of noises,
thousands of voices,
into the snow-drifted

A Bientot,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today's Clever Title is Re:Visions

Over the next few days I'm going to be putting up a few workshopped poems, two that have been up already - Crags and Reception (formerly Catch) - and one new one...
Superbowl on Sunday!


And now I am a jackdaw alighted on a rock
above the city, bunnyhopping toward the cliff face.

I hoke at the wet stone,
shake the fine rain from my feathers,

and already my memories
are dripping off in runnels.

The castle, the highrises, the alleys
grow abstract with each fluttered heartbeat.

The river meets the sea and the wind
pushes me softly, suddenly over the edge

and I open my different mouth
and I open my different arms.

Til tomorrow,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009



New poem out of goddamn nowhere. What would happen if you could go backwards through a relationship?
So the inauguration poet sounded like Microsoft Sam. That's gotta be one tough gig. Great speech though, Obama was a hecka good support act.
Other news: Frank Vorassi is gonna publish "Homecoming" in the March edition of Bottom of the World! AW YISS


She looks at him with a tender kind of sadness.
As she walks backward through the closing door
they grow unfamiliar through similar dreams
of things they may some day do. Fingers pulled
together as if by magnetic opposites
recall the times they will warm ill-heated beds,
crooked inside each other like lightning bolts.

Crosses fade from refurling calendars
that survey a systematic withdrawal
of tokens of affection, habits of speech,
a spreading air of innocence as they sleepwalk
into mutual forgetfulness. A night will come
when those last rough edges are filed into smoothness,
as lips lean close, then further (much further) away.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Et Finalement

I know it's been more like eight days than a week, but hey! Hope it's been enjoyable. It may be a little while before there's any new material up here, but I'll try and make it sooner rather than later.

Edit: OMIGODOMIGOD I got published by Gloom Cupboard Jesus


Many Sundays ago I was carrying
pot plants from all corners of the house
to the kitchen, covering the sink and each flat surface
till the room was green and the air was thick.

(In a smaller kitchen in the early nineties
my mother measured the fertiliser
in droplets that billowed beneath the surface
in a muddy miniature watering can.

I stood on a stool and tipped the contents
round the roots, recolouring the soil
as water leaked out in dirt-clogged rivulets –
‘That’s enough now, David’)

The ivy creeper from the sill on the landing
had been overlooked in our shiny new home.
As I dropped it beside the compost heap
I wondered how I’d ever figured out
when to stop.

Ciao for niao,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

As I post this I am watching Mark Wahlberg in the 2008 classic "Max Payne"

Sky Burial

Hollow broken bones,
meat mixed with barley flour,
yak butter and tea;

vultures take the best of the spoils,
bones are left to ravens and hawks.

On this clear morning
our breath masses in fine clouds
as we remember

the one who offered himself
to the sky. Juniper fires

cleanse the air above
the charnel-ground, a tower
of silence stained

by sunrise. Later, man-sized
wings will carry altered flesh

across the mountains.
Nothing remains but dirty-
white feathers and memory.

Last poem tomorrow!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I am very quietly posting this then getting back under the blanket in front of the tv. Which is turned down. Ruddy absinthe.

Going Home

Sun hit the room through tall windows, painting shadows
in the slender, breezy light of morning, clearer
than your camera for picking your nestled brownness,
throwing mustardseed freckles on your cheeks.

Hair rippled like running water down the alleyways and canals
of places we’d never been. The door stuttered shut
where the carpet lay thick, or the door lay low,
leaving a pile of clothes spilling green from your suitcase.

There were more stairs going down than going up;
I couldn’t recall the frosted windows overlooking back yards
or the bikes locked up on each floor. The Edwardian front door
with the red plastic lock buzzed and shunted onto the street.

The concrete sat ordinary underfoot, the breeze from the sea
wheedling its way under layers of clothes.

Happier tomorrow,

Friday, January 09, 2009

I'll Fly Away

So my flat isn't perfect, but it does have an awesome view of the crags from the living room, and this time of the morning there are dozens of gulls flying around the buildings, screeching away. It's been a while since I've mentioned birds, and I'd hate to think I was becoming lax in my duties.


And now I am a jackdaw perched
on a rock above the city,
bunnyhopping towards the cliff face.

I hoke at the wet stone,
shake the fine rain from my feathers,

and already the memory of being human
is slipping away in runnels.
The alleys, the highrises, the castle

grow abstract with each
rapid heartbeat. The river meets

the sea and the wind
pushes me softly,
suddenly over the edge and I open

my different mouth and I open
my different arms.

Til tomorrow,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Football with the hands

I love American football. I don't care what anyone says, it can be one of the most dramatic games going. Its format practically requires a game to have at least one pivotal moment - 3rd and long, no timeouts remaining, yadayada - while each play (I don't think it a coincidence that such a dramatic game should be made up of individual plays) is rehearsed and refined and deployed with remarkable attention to detail. It's an underrated game on this side of the Atlantic.

Superbowl on the 1st of February. Hold my calls.


The opening drive goes three-and-out,
the defence – led by the six-four
two-twenty linebacker
in his eighth year out of Syracuse

mobilises at midfield
as the white-stitched ball is torpedoed
to the punter with the European name
the announcers have yet to fathom
and sent hurtling end over end deep
into the floodlights and falling
snow – inside the twenty, inside the ten
as mathematics and replays determine
where the next possession begins,
where the quarterback sends
his rookie receiver into single coverage
on an in-and-out route the safety
was only half-watching,
where the spiral of the ball will be
interrupted by gloved hands
and carried, screaming,
into the floodlit

See you tomorrow, sports fans,

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

O Tannenbaum

It is lucky term has not started because it is 11am and all I have accomplished is weetabix.

Edit: My blog was two years old yesterday. Happy birthday, blog.


We unraveled the fairy lights my sister
left when she moved out
and threaded them carefully
through the needles of our fold-out tree.

I jumped from switch to switch
until the room turned black and grey,
ushering the night through the big french window,

and the lights flashed and for a moment
your face glowed and your eyes were wide
til something blew and then silence.

I knelt by the socket with scotch tape and tried
to secure the shot wires with giftwrap.
Spreading my arms like a priest before
a burnt offering, I prayed against the dark.

Hasta mañana,

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year, New Poems

First, some plugs: I'm an editor for Read This Magazine, a little Edinburgh-based publication for young and emerging writers, and our editor-in-chief Claire Askew runs a cool-as-fuck poetry blog at One Night Stanzas, more than just a witty name.

So! I've been fairly active over the holidays, and as such, over the next week I will upload a brand new, never-before-seen poem EVERY FREAKING DAY. Wowsa!

Today, a poem that is pretty darned straight-forward.

Train to London

The cloudline tears and sunlight spills out in streams.
Stars hide behind the two-way mirror of earth’s atmosphere,
the full-grown ash looking dwarfish as the motion of the train,
the motion of the farmer’s quad bike, throws us in centrifuge,
the vast brown field growing vaster.

A rickety wood-pole-bridge slants
across the bare-bark-reflecting stream. Sheep-trails and fox-trails
that line the woodland are not veins for plasma flocks of cotton,
and I cannot explain what makes the yellow digger such a good shepherd
though I can hazard a guess.

I give you birchwood. I give you the white flowers of hawthorn.
I give you witchhazel and alder with sunlight strobing through their branches.
You give me the fuzz-yellow buzzcut fields, heather like coral,
gaps in stone walls, a scarecrow, faces of cliffs like ellipses, the sea,
the sea,

a bluebell, seagulls following a tractor like seagulls following
a trawler, the soil deep brown, the summerhouse overlooking the water
where hawks hover, haybales like pigs in a blanket,
like an art exhibit, like the wheels of the sun, like morse code, like braille,
like the sign language I never learned,

the elm bare like handstanding roots, pheasant farm
net-roofed, sheughs of water left in train-wake;
horses graze by the river that curves out of sight,
branches reach out through reds, greens, blues,

Thanks for reading,