, , , , , , , ,


he was broken, beaten,

almost into submission,

his limbs disobedient,

recalcitrant children

that won’t keep up,

that he has to drag along behind him.


his brain short-circuiting,

supplying the wrong words,

or nothing at all.

a blankness in his mind

where reason used to be.


it seems now

he is always

in the process

of falling.

and her arms

are weary

of catching him.


she has no strength left

to hold him up,

never mind the will.

he’s sapped it all

over long sad months

of not trying hard enough.


her debt can never be repaid.

the account is written in his blood.

his body bears the scars

of unrequited love.


can he help

wanting more

than a kind hand

on his shoulder,

a soft voice

in his ear every

now and then?


can he help

seeking to lay

his head down

on her beating heart,

to just close his eyes

for a minute,

and breathe her in?

Poem about Quinn & Carrie. Photo of Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn in Homeland.

Please also see secret squirrel blog on Quinn (Rupert Friend)/Carrie (Claire Danes)/Homeland.





, , ,

writing done in the dark

that you can barely decipher in daylight.

lines crawling diagonally up the page

and colliding with each other

as if blindfolded and spun by the shoulders.


squashed and crooked letters,

unfinished thoughts

snaking out of control

pell mell and gung ho

as dodgems at the fair.


words escaping the edges of the paper

rivulets of spilled ink

or runaway trains in old

grey TV westerns.


ideas that crowd your head

and will not be denied:

clamouring like vendors at the rialto

robustly proclaiming their wares:

make it mine, make it mine,

make it mine.





, , , ,



the gunmetal grey slab of slate,

a seashore relic,

threaded with silver,

governed by tides and moon.

it recalls whales that swallow men whole

and caves where mermaids comb their hair,

so that it glistens in the sunlit spray.


weathered by sun and sand,

it lies heavy as a conscience,

implacable and true,

a link to long ago,

a place deep in the distant past,

where myth’s entwined with history

and a shell pressed to the ear

unleashes the sound of the sea.




, , , , , , ,

sasha close copy


a teenage tennis up and comer,

capricious as an easter breeze,

unlevelheaded as a maiden in love

in a highstrung bronte

tragical historical romance.

wilful with the whims of the

unfairly cossetted youngest son,

headstrong and mettlesome

as a colt all at once

let loose in a fallow field.

protests, remonstrates,

melodramatic as a princess

in a whirlwind of temper

with her eye-rolling retinue.

he overflows with righteous indignation,

a frothy head of hard done by,

foaming up fast as shaken soda,

moments later subsiding into

the lingering mild resentment

of a schoolboy scolded out of turn.

he is girlish with youth and giddiness

and wild as a storm on the sea.


Elemental‘ is the first in a trilogy of poems about Sascha Zverev. The second is ‘Adolescent‘ and the third ‘Disarmed‘.


the way he leans


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

in thrall to the notion

of a boy at school,

whose languid unfocused gaze

as he leans back against a wall

and releases a long extended sigh,

indicative of wasted days and nights

and boredom unenhanced by intellect,

can electrify her with desire,

and freeze her with terror

at one and the same time.

suddenly she is fraught and tense

with night-before-the-

exam apprehension.

her hands tingle and sweat

and her thoughts seem to halt abruptly

without warning, then resume

so that they crash into each other,

like items held up on a conveyor.

About Angela/Jordan/Rickie/Rayanne/Brian from My So-called Life, so brilliantly played by Claire Danes, Jared Leto/Wilson Cruz/A J Langer/Devon Gummersall. Song is ‘Late at Night’ by Buffalo Tom.

Previous MSCL poems in trilogy here and here.

Thanks to all for reading this month’s poems. Phew, another napowrimo over.



, , , ,

a newcomer

at the writing group

upsets the balance,

the pattern and flow

of read and response,

the kid glove critics

handing out biscuits

and circumspect approval.

she senses their mistrust,

an invisible wall

that must be scaled

or broken down.

she has to feel her way

past cold shoulders,

tentative, a blind person

in a maze of hazards,

nervous as a lamb

in unfamiliar pasture.

root canal


, , , , ,

the medicine applied

to my tooth releases

a steady stream

of bitterness

all night long –

an old maid’s lament –

when no prince charming

has been forthcoming

and she withers,

unplucked, on the bough.


my soon-to-be ex-

tooth grizzles

and complains,

a fretful child

whose whimpering

I can’t ignore –

it’s raising hell

in an unsupervised corner.


the earthiness

of oil of cloves


grants a brief respite,

a shoulder squeeze

of sympathy

from someone

otherwise undemonstrative.



, , , , , ,

so lonesome the sound

of someone else’s fireworks

on the eve of a blank new year.

momentary constellations

of colour and light

glimpsed through a crack

in the living room curtains

you’ve drawn against

the world’s cold draft.


you exist on the edges

like a fox foraging

in the city night.

an interloper’s sense

of unbelonging owns you,

points its finger,

dials a number,

makes a report.


morning after


, , , ,

a reproachful mist

drenched the day in grey,

defeating the sun,

deadening all,

colour, sound,

subduing the landscape

as a cloth around the knocker

on the door of the bereaved.


it lingered languidly

into the afternoon

like an overnight party guest

draped extravagantly

across a three-seater sofa.

outstaying his welcome,

lounging about the living room

the day after the night before

as if expecting something more –

coffee or breakfast

or hair of the dog.


and the oatmeal sky ached

as if with the memory of rain

and the summer was suddenly,

irretrievably, lost.



, , , , ,

walking on a chalk hillside.

the going is deceptively


oasthouses in the valley

tip their tipsy hats to us,

a village dozes, mistily

picturesque in the distance.

picnic on a scarred slope

between stands of hawthorn.


everything you set down

slides and rolls away,

prompting swearing and

a general loss of temper.

reach out sodden cheese and

tomato sandwiches from

crumpled packs of tin foil,

flasks of tea, thin and lukewarm

with the instant plastic flavour

of a summer day’s outing.


arguments and alliances,

reggae on a cheap transistor

radio swinging on our hips,

sunshine through a speaker,

rescuing the day from a bad mood.

Song is ‘Zimbabwe’ by Bob Marley.



, , , , ,


a hazy window view

from the top

of a double decker

of a pub sign

in olde worlde script,

romanticised by grime.

you are on diversion,

and so miss your stop.

the police warily watch

the school kids muster,

hands poised on radios,

alert set on amber,

while at the clock tower

the red buses

dance around each other

in unintended