It was with relish 

that you’d mend

the drains,

the mallet raised

above your head 

your whole body,


You’d break sweat

on the fourth blow

and I would marvel

at your physique

so rippling for seventy.


I would know where

to scatter your ashes: 

by the sea. Among 

a glade of palms 

by the coconut husks 

and the fronds 

decaying in the sun. 

The surf shall lament 

the sand crabs too 

and I will write 

a threnody for the gulls 

to sing.  


I loved the brambles

and the windy lanes

the thorny hedgerows

where we went


There’d be sticklebacks

for our jam-jars

and conkers,

bucketfuls of sport

and prickly things

to scratch our arms

bronzed by summer.

I never thought

to write about the beauty

of muddy stiles

where you clambered

into magic woods

and sprinted for home.

It was given,

and taken from me.

Until now.


I have seen you

sit and tear

the false nails

from your fingers.

I have seen you cry

and drain a bottle

of plonk

like mouthfuls of pain.

I have seen you

shiver with anger

at bland food

and loose women.

But I haven’t known

you cheat on me.


These words need time

to grow; they have

a husk to shell

before they become real.

I tinker, I cross out

I feel them bulge.

You feel them

move in your mind

lasso your soul

as I craft them

into angels or gargoyles,

into palaces of colour

spectacles of sound.


In the humid evening

something obnoxious

blooms beside my

kitchen window.

It makes me think

of corpse flowers,

pungent, scented

like dead fish.

Dizzy with the pong

the carrion smell

rising among the dock

weeds and nettles,

it is a whiff

of mortality.

Sea Music

We bought a house

beside the ocean.

Sea clover proliferated,

like the wind

which could sculpt

shrubs into still lives.

I would pluck

sea grapes, stroll

in the dunes

while the tide

strummed its music,

grand phrases, beyond me.