Extract from ‘Who’s there?’  - 2017


A man called Harold

stands in front of me

head bowed very concentratedly

rolling and unrolling my sleeve


I stand very still

I don’t want to disturb him

I want to carry on standing like this

for as long as he is engaged in this 


I can see that this is something he needs to do

and that I am more than happy

to be part of that need


We are two people

standing in the middle of a room

rolling and unrolling a need

Nobby falls like a small rotting stump

slowly sideways


It is a gentle not unhappy thud

on the dark carpet

of mulch and leaves and needles and loam


It is forgiving ground

where Nobby lies on his side alone


There’s a moment of pure unnoticing

where everything appears to be in its place


Nobby on the floor with his smiling face


The world opens out or shuts down


(which is it, which is it)  

Alive Alive O2015

Deep Sea Diver

There’s a field inside my head


It’s dark and flat and a moon hangs 

above it in whose silvery light 

nothing appears to live


It’s very mysterious and simple,

on a different planet    


to this one here      

that moves and is manifold:


each one of the tens of millions of blades of grass

shivers in its singularity;


one sheep’s crusty underwool is home

to a greenbottle settling down to lay

her two hundred and fifty possibilities


while another stares out 

of the glazed globe of an eye


not unlike a man who’s lost his mind

but found there cause instead

to be vaguely, dully, afraid of everything


And beneath the sheep

and field and flattened buttercups,

miles and miles beneath


all is shift and shale,

burn and boil


Old underearth,

unseeable, unexplorable;


who scrambles through your soft weak rock,

who swims through your molten ocean,

what holds court at the centre

of your solid iron ball the size of the moon?

Once I plumbed down 

level by level 


into the sea,

into the realm 


of the falling debris,

dead and dying-fish-eating creatures


into the freezing black waters 

of blind long-tentacled things;


down among the deepwater canyons I went

and still nowhere near was I


to the outer core

of the earth’s interior,

its massive indoors


when I saw hanging there

a sole, or flounder


a self never before seen 


but one who remained unchanged 

in the bright beam of my look


And I rose to the surface

like one who had only that to do


where slowly over the years

all that I held dear came loose


and I took to the fields

that covered the earth

like so many soft dressings


and I lay down and looked up at the sky


where I saw a fish hanging 

in the black, where I saw a moon

Deep Sea Diver
00:00 / 03:28

Salvation Jane - 2008

You drew breath


as a boy draws something silver from a river,

an angler from the sea a bale of weed;

as a woman draws herself from a bath,

as blood is drawn from a vein.

You drew breath as thread is drawn through

the eye of a needle, wet sheets through a mangle,

as steel is drawn through a die to make wire

and oil draws up through wick its flag of fire.

You drew breath as a reservoir draws from a well

of ink and a mouth and a nose and eyes are drawn,

as a sheet is drawn from under the dying

and over the heads of the dead.

You drew breath as the last wheezing pint is drawn,

as money and a bow and the tide are drawn;

as up over her head a woman draws

a dress and down onto her a man.

You drew breath as a cloud draws its pall

across the moon, across the car park

where a sky-blue line draws the way

all the way to Maternity; as all in blue

they drew a semi-circle round the bed,

a line and then a knife across the skin;

as in another room someone drew

a curtain round its runner, a hand across

a pair of finished eyes. You drew breath

as they drew you – besmeared and blue – out

and sublime was your fury at being drawn

into this air, this theatre; you drew breath

for the first time – for a second I held mine.

You Drew Breath
00:00 / 01:51

At Home in the Dark 

The Fitter


It can take days. The vision, you see, is vital,

without it, it's nothing - a soft toy. Pass me

my eyes, pointing to an old biscuit tin.


It's a kind of hunting all over again, with books

open, photos pinned, ready with needle

and glue. They caught the body years ago,

that was the easy part. But he speaks now


of a soul; what, for instance, did the creature see?

Moorland, scrub, veld, or sodden jungle,

desert, wood, the same indigo skies?

The man who fits the eyes has never left


his semi in Cardiff, but he's a master of precision,

nothing's too small, or extinct. Recently

though, a slip in concentration perhaps -

an upright grizzly in the Natural History


has the eyes of a man stranded in his front room,

the telly blizzarding, the fire gone dead;

a bison's head looms out of a wall, dazed,

like a woman just woken, sleep crusting her eyes;


and a pair of monkeys stare out from a London window,

like lovers come to the end, at a loss

in front of what has been, what is to come,

deaf to the whirr and gong of the clock on the hour.


His eyes brim at night from all the detail.

There's a tea-towel over the mirror and it takes him a while

to sleep. Everything's always awake, he says. 

The Fitter
00:00 / 02:12