Category Archives: by my pen


When you wake up in the dark at 530am you tend to cry a lot.

I’ve wept over a young Italian guy in Miami getting his restaurant fixed by a man with a sledgehammer, who also improved his pasta sauce. I’ve sobbed as Drake (somewhat hamfistedly) handed out wads of cash to young families (that might have been Florida too). Tears have traced lines down my cheeks watching penguin fail videos on Youtube.

Exhaustion makes you hyper-sensitive – I guess your guards have not gotten up yet.

Of course it might also have something to do with that beautiful young girl over there on the floor. They do say being a parent makes you a lot more empathetic – and a wreck. Right now she’s spreading her books out on the rug and checking in for messy mouthfuls of weetbix.

She’s just learning what tickling is, giggling through those two front teeth as she comes to starfish on the couch. Take a load off, babe.

These are vulnerable hours. And none more so than for mum still in bed, prone and unknowing when a little body will be climbing all over her.

It’s good to let it all out, and it’s funny how a little bit of sad can make you so happy.

Tagged , ,


Dotted stars shimmer in cosmic dance
Orion’s belt blazing, a bronze-tipped lance
Made of superstars, now long diminished
That fed swinging systems, their cycles finished
Speeding white light sent into travel
As their supernova mass unwound, unravelled
When the hot light of our sun is seen
Will someone be watching what has already been?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Chartwell, Kent – with Jay

Unusual heat boiled the tar out of sleepers
As turquoise dragonflies left cross-stiched streams
Over a pond that resembled 1940s Britain
Dirty, murky green
Perhaps a large puddle of displaced Thames
Heaved to Kent by a missile

The Sexagenarians held us up
Looking for lost years in the bushes
In pastel shirts and high waisted pants
They retired on the watered greens
Wiping their chins with their 3wood socks

Waiting, our deftly rolled cigarettes of shag and rice burnt a thin trail of smoke
Wafting through Churchill’s England, his Garden of Eden

Not the smoke of fires and smouldering terraces
That burned the eyes of crying children in hot, packed underground platforms
Tinned, swaddled masses, tripping down stairs and crushing one another

Think of them as victory fires, or traces from a hero’s pyre
Snaking souls of ash bound for some kind of blessed heaven
Where courage and selflessness are rewarded one thousand fold

Underneath the very same sky
If you strained, you could almost hear a rattling battle cry
And we swung our rifles, whipping tiny incendiaries past bunkers into holes
Roused with wit and humour
Buoyed by an unattainable wisdom

Afterwards we’d try and count the books on the shelves
Sealed by the lacquer of time
Thinking on what they fought for
Albion’s rolling hills and deep valleys,
The rose and apple, rhubarb patch and bumblebee
The chestnut and cider, and weeping willow tree

Summer, London 2003

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

On Saskia, written in early January 2017

Her right foot isn’t quite right. Not left, just not right enough.

The midwife told us she’s seen some feet come out backwards though, which made us feel better.

She also has twin constellations, crimson-coloured. One on her crown and the other on nape of her neck, just above the hairline. Apparently they fix themselves too. Which is neat.

Her umbilical cord, having pulsed its last, was clamped with a little plastic thing that reminded me of putting out the washing. The weird stubby, well, stub (which I remember from the kittens born in the hot-water cupboard) healed quicker than my last google search said it might. Which, again, was worrisome (for some reason).

Now the baby bullet hole is weeping a little and I’m too scared to touch it. Not even with a wet cotton ball. And actually the midwife said to me on our last visit “Oh, you’re the dad who couldn’t look while I opened it up!” Yes that was me.

We are more or less resolved to an outie — but it could still go either way.

What can I say, it’s as new to us as it is to Saskia — only we have stretchier, more exercised imaginations at this point so can more readily envision the infinite ways for fate to fuck us up. She can see shadows too of course, but only ones about 10cm from her face.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,


Her name is Little Running River
And she bubbles by the bushes
Falling over stones she sucks in air
Feeding fish, fronds, and fennel
Time flows slowly for her
Through muddy dams and wide-leaved lillies
Does she dream of the sea, where her journey ends?
Or maybe of the spring that birthed her siblings
Little Running River, laughing

Tagged , , , , ,

Puck’s Eden With Kipling

Birdcall floats from tree to tree
And hanging leaves spin windily
They’re nicking fruit where it sprouts
On branches growing down and out

Thrush thrash branches between their beaks
And dance up dirt with taloned feet
While Minors signal, in piercing notes
In sharp alarm from echoed throats

Fantail bounce among the berries
The bramble-crown of ring-bound faeries
Who speak the tongue of birdish runes
And sing along, their fluted tunes
Warnings not for feathered wings
“Beware, you humans” — that’s what they sing

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Boys Like Playing In The Creek

The boys like playing in the creek

They look for crawlies under the smooth stones and spiders in the hollow logs
Tadpoles swim between their legs, growing their own

Then someone slips and laughter fills the air
Cold water fills the pockets of their shorts

Every tree trunk is a target, and every arm a hero
As birds whiz past their heads like darts

They also like climbing the neighbour’s fence and pinching fruit
Then batting blowflies and bees with old tennis rackets

Though they aren’t too keen on kissing girls yet
Or when their parents call them home for dinner

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 9, 2016 (& 2002 & 1980)

In 2012, I paddled out before the sun came up in Manly, surfing as it rose. Today—on the same wild ocean but kilometres away—I wade into the water again, watching the waves crest and crumble through palm fronds jammed into the sand. The dew had made the top layer dark; and hopefully it had also run the dog piss off the car tyres. The foaming pacific felt warm and light as a cappuccino but the bared teeth of the mottled mongrels were chilling as they chased me off the beach. I can still hear their barking. The shore-break was detonating in rumbling, rolling white-outs while I remembered that half a lifetime ago (1998) I got my first guitar — as today (2016) I was getting another one.



Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: