Jewellery Box

In your jewellery box

more like a miniature chest

painted with peacocks

you have my old letters.

There are consequences

opening old heirlooms.

Like sadness

enough to

line bookshelves.


There is a stink

of something stale

in the house

a whiff of mildew

by the skirting boards

some tatty webs

where the spiders

have decamped.

Like time has grown

bemused, and written

its alphabet of decay

in our yard.


The lion in me

is well-medicated.

I don’t prowl among ghouls 

or conspire with insanity. 

I write about incarceration 

how the gods sung 

in my ears. 

War Graves

War graves are always tidy

regimented rows

of the glorious dead

without a weed, bone-white headstones

polished by the sun.

This belies

how things were.

Lice in their uniforms

rats bigger than bread loaves

and the clay, webbing their

bullet-holed hearts.


The roads

are snarled up.

Pneumatic drills

pound the pavement.

Wherever I walk

there are restricted zones.

I have tinnitus

and insomnia.

When you gaze up

there are no stars

the sky is flushed hectic red

matching the madness of the city

and bilious men in bars.


I comb the fossil beach 

inspecting under rocks

until I find a flat pebble,

scrub away the barnacles 

and halve it.

There’s treasure inside.

I like the fiddly bones

froze in stone

the perfectly preserved

record of another time

alive in the rock.


The door is ajar

for the cat to slink

between bedrooms.

I have no study table

from where to

watch moonlight

pool behind the drapes

or write how the house 

breathes raggedly.

Just a lumpy mattress

and a leaky biro 

to concoct magic.