You come down from the sun
as I sit in the cellar
with my broken harp
the colours in your hands
are warming
where dead rainbows were sharp
and shovels for my tomb

You waltz into my eyes
with laughing
as I count the matchsticks
I have dropped like tears
the lovesong in your voice
is talking
where darkness froze my ears
to emaciated skies

a bit wet

a bit wet

Roll ’em said the Almighty Director
and by Behan by Falstaff
by Jesus and by Monroe
the bloody waters had their bastard
in the gurgling of a cracked-up
magnified bouncing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
of a drowning earth

and by Sir Larry
cooling it in my painted on-stage
perilous raft
i was there
and i said
a bit wet, all this, isn’t it?

Greek Statues for Ever

Greek Statues for Ever

I have to tell myself

or I have to be told
that people die
and do not stand
greek statues for ever.

I feel this most of all
when I am standing still myself
like this

Yet I love to stand on ceremony
it is part of my deepest learning
and when I am stoney-faced
and you believe me solid
I am pleased.

I love to stand on you
but you love to stand on me
to be sure of your weight
and I hate you for it
for reminding my soft bones
that they bend
for wounding me into involvement

and for ending my cold
and catatonic wait
I love you.




If she played Life
like she plays Monopoly
my wife would have the power to buy and sell me
many times over.

The inner London of my soul
would be owed to her Company Store
from Park Lane to the Old Kent Road.

My sole possession would be
the highly dubious camaraderie
of the equally poor –
only the citations of King’s Cross
to mark our road to God.

But thank God
she does not.

                   ‘Bad Friends’ published 1975

The Singer

The Singer

(La Bassey)

Bold as a new penny
she holds us
touches us
all we can do
is not resist

watch what she’s doing
breaking up distance
catching our dreams
in hands
like a goalkeepers
turning back over
a swan in each wrist
a snake in the
unrest and tension
clutch boney arms
and are flung back
out to a sudden
where they came from

the breath is held
in the pleasure which she
holds for us
sure of her time

Don't Drop Me

Don't Drop Me

(Lancashire Literature Festival 1981)

Mystics, mistresses, madams and mattresses
You are the monsters now,
in the fields and towns, on the map.
Look, see, far greenier blues,
pearly skies, hypothesize, wow!
Maybe I, maybe no,
hedgerow and Heathrow,
Hey, mister, is this it?
Beads of sweat and play-
all these years of fair-
No, I’m not squealing,
only a wing and a prayer-wheel,
and a terrible feeling
nothing is there (is there?)
Reflexes, twitches, and
go sleep
with you monsters under
the continents
slumberland towns.
Catch me, don’t drop me
I’m coming down
I have got to come down.



June 1965

The brush can only try
to light a canvass with a candle flicker
the hammer and the chisel
are dumb dividers of a hot-faced whisper
the wind of flame
can never even gasp a dying semblance
of an ember in the stolen wood
of sapless lead.

When growling men
try tongueless to exude a crucial
river of expression
when howling mummers
try their roles on neurotic
first nights of the soul
the theologian will descend
to bless their efforts but only in his cloud
confess emotion.

For he and they
have dignity enough to leave
the hammering of blushes into blue
to mad exiles who wander
with unlit candles for torches
in search of tools
which trade with colours
in a lover’s pool of whirling oils.

Before Sundown

Before Sundown

Once there was a rainbow with many colours.
I was young then and I looked at it for hours.
Then the colours slowly started to fade
People with me cried a bit and said
perhaps we should pray!

When there was only one colour left
we all worshipped it like dogs
and called it holy names and dyed our socks
and everything the same colour.

But soon even that started to fade and
everyone got together to invent
a new one before it got dark.

It was absolutely no use I just
consoled myself as best I could
by trying to lose my sight
in a dignified manner
I said to myself,
Well blind people develop better hearing,
smell better and all that sort of thing.

But perhaps I should have thought
about listening to rainbows
before sundown.

A Poor Man's Belly

A Poor Man's Belly

When something beneath the eye
has been born
must we zoom down to zero in
the analytic sights of some chunk of glass ?

Will you say that fear of knowledge
is bad
if I tell you that my hands
were not made of that cool grasping metal
which are the trappings of well-versed heads ?

I find it hard to play with lenses
with easy finger exercises
like they do
though I can see you now, I admit,
the naked weight on some dull butcher’s scale
and everybody’s woman
and only the butcher’s thumb between you
and the rest
and being so lovely and tender
you’d definitely not end up in a poor man’s belly
for some unhungry success
would have his wife’s daily
fetch you to a nice big fridge.

What makes me twitch at the lips
is that you’d have no choice in that set-up
being the choice yourself.

Sometimes we all seem butcher’s meat
Or just plain butchers
and our words are sometimes knives of wisdom
that we like to understand because
they’re nice and clean and sharp
But they’re not ours then
and I feel more eloquent simply gaping
at things I never have understood.

this is all so much offal for the flies;

to see the scales in all their massive
deathly lead
is a simple, almost childish vision
but why should children have
the best of it ?

We don’t have to learn love
do we,
to know what happens when we’re all alone
together ?
But that is a question not an answer.

After the Clowns

After the Clowns

The feet of lesser beings
come to the circus o our summit meeting
and our hands hold time and space
by the umbilical

We are next on after the clowns
before the trained apes

We are draining our senses in the heights
in the one night only show of
paid for, understood as rigged-up
slightly pitied bravery

We grope darkly
You serene in a way
but just as frightened as me
aware that the moment
must be held now or lost in a murmer
of satisfied customers.

Now my darling we hang on for life
but these are not the frightened limbs
of tight-rope wlkers any more

Now we are swinging on the ropeless sky
of mutually entwining and rope-bursting flesh

Now we have done and
where is the cord they all came to watch
us fall from
into the one face of their dead-pan sea ?

What we have done is to make from sawdust
and sadistic expectation
an unseen laughing-crying thing
a soul independent even of eternity.