The boy comes home from school, wet through,
the rain has curled his hair.
His shorts too long, his socks rolled down,
his shoes are part-undone.
His mother’s waiting by the door.
He sees her red-rimmed eyes.
She tries to speak, but only sobs,
his arms go round her waist,
his face is buried in her dress.
“I know what happened, Mum.
I know that Daddy hung himself.”
She’s shocked, she shakes. “But how?”
“He made me promise not to tell.
I saw it in my head.
We both could see the future, Mum,
it came from him to me.
He knew exactly how his friends
and family would die,
and knowing that, he couldn’t live -
he put an end to it.
Of course, he knew he’d end that way,
and I could see it too.
So Mum, please help, I’m really scared,
don’t let me do the same.
Just hold me tight and help me, Mum,
I want to live, not see.”

The trees slide past, the train drives on,
the wheels whirr and the clock ticks.
The train slows, stops. All is silent, still.
A station? No. Just left the last.
A voice regrets – track-side fires.
All lines blocked – we wait.
Seven hours left to collect the car.
Two hours go by, trains start to pass,
but ours has failed.
We call car hire. The man tells us
not to worry. You have time.
But we don’t.
We plead, please hold the car.
We change trains. Three hours left.
We arrive. Taxi’s gone. We call another.
The hire man’s stayed
two hours over time.
The tip’s refused. He says
you kept me informed.
So I stayed. We drive.

Erlestoke Grey
Steel in the heart,
steel in the head,
steel in the guts,
steel in the fence.

It guards him and
six hundred the same.
Grey blot on the green
of Salisbury Plain.

He's small and gentle,
no brute, soft spoken.

That day long ago
he exploded,
plunged the knife in
again and again

Their child screamed.
He stopped at last.
She lived, just saved
By the ambulance.

Ten years on
and he's still there
behind the steel
and all round grey.

Steel in the cuffs,
steel in the keys,
steel in the bars,
Grey island in green.
The cat litter
From here your gravelly surface
Looks like the heat-shattered remains
Of desert rocks.

But your box sits on the carpet
Where the rain-soaked cat
Returns to lick itself dry
Before gracing you with a
Small contribution.

Daily life
I wake at six or rather I am woken
By the cat that wants to go outside
So up I get and go downstairs to let the cat
Escape to where she hunts her tiny prey
And I go back to bed but shut the door
So she can’t wake us up again.

A lovely doze and then we realise
That time is marching by and we must make a move
Or else the day will all be gone,
Just like the weeks and months and years,
And we’ll be old and wonder where the time dissolved
Into a murky soup of past experience
The only thing that separates us from our end.

Waking Dream
Tied by ropes, I watch the scene,
Feel the pain of expected loss
Of laptop, passport, wallet and case,
Left on a plane, or in a café,
Beside my chair when I’m giving a talk,
Ready for lifting by a sneaky thief.
All lost in my dream, though I know they are not.

The dawn light comes and I look down
To see the case beside my bed,
Safely guarding my precious life.
Cards and wallet and laptop too,

When deadlines start to weigh upon me,

The vivid dream comes back again
To haunt a mind that never learns

A world of bowing, business cards,
presented courteously,
read with care,
nodding gently to say no.
In any weather, men suited, women booted.
Menus curious, surprising, uncertain.
He sits opposite, smiling.
What does he want?
Will I ever know?