The coming

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 was influenced by fears propagated by the Leave campaign of an uncontrollable deluge of refugees.

It starts as a tranquil Advent morning.
The church’s bell. I put Radio 4 on.
Fusty cottage bed smell. My small skylight an
old-style grey-scale grainy screen, sleety rain
flitting across it, a bit of sun due later
so I rise, breakfast, thinking to
leave behind the troubling headlines and
walk on the fell’s dry-stone-wall-bevelled loveliness –
stacked-up rocks that go back centuries,
luscious mosses that go back millenia,
sleet, rain, sleet, now slithery heather,
now tactile lichen-laced granity crags,
grey-green meadow where my boots leave
soft scoop-shapes on sheep-tracks
that peter out and restart and randomly
meet the upper path where suddenly, a dark thing
on the fell-top frightens me, profiled, dalek-like…

What if another and another appear on the
brittle skyline? What if they come pouring over
our northern hills like sheep being driven down,
til this bench with a plaque marking Bob Dugdale’s
beloved look-out point turns to a mucky pit
messed up with detritus – plastic bottles, baby wipes,
a dirty dolly, a dummy, litter, piss, shit?
What if they pour down the fell, soiling it while
calling out, stumbling, pushing, tripping, falling –
then set up stall in the mud and try to cook?
Where’s this black-bearded man from? Palms
capping the skulls of two lost-looking children,
dirt-smeared, tear-stained, blood, sweat, snot.
What if they come and come and… And a mother’s
yelling at a youth like our Emma would with Andrew
what must be stop, stop, stop, as his desperate
leap to get over the beck’s lethal tumult fails.

In Adventus (2017)


Canal barge, kimono

Two lovers reunited on the fold-out bed,
afternoon, a Saturday, he on his elbow
looking out of the little window,
she trying on his gift, a kimono –
off-white linen, waffle-woven.

On the boat’s starboard, dark murk,
mossy bricks, sheet-metal stamping works.
On the port side, tow-path, travellers
camping on a brown-field site,
whistling dog-walker, dog scratting
in stubby grass. A shit-clogged bath
is a trough for the gypsies’ horses.
On the barge’s ceiling, rippling light,
him stroking her skin with the tie-belt,
her skin’s fine hair rising at the fabric,
the boat’s slight see-saw as he rises

and the love they make at this moment,
on this day, the second hottest day on record
for the month of June in the West Midlands,
the canal’s lip unruly with buddleia and nettles
then fussy lace trees, a small sky, a distant
castellated church, a newly built estate
where England flags dangle from boys’ windows –
on this second hottest day on the canal in Smethwick,
while kettles boil for tea on nearby houseboats
and mallards peck at algae on the boat’s wood
at the waterline, the love they make on this day
that is too hot and still to stir the England flags
will make the child who will own this boat,
who will own this very kimono.

In Thin bones like wishbones(2013)