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To Carry a Ladder

Daft trying to fang hold of it in the middle
or grabbing it wherever suits fit.
Take one end and lift.

Run it up to the sky on its heel.
Get a shoulder under it – take the weight,
and feel for the point of fulcrum.

Allow it to settle on the clavicle,
horizontal, hardly there.
Fist a rung, no sweat:

between parked cars, down entries;
one arm around it, the other swinging.
Beware of washing lines.

from City Works Dept. (2018)

Demolition of the Power Station

Coming back up the A34, counting

the pylons. The cooling towers

where the white clouds are made, always there.

A black-tipped chimney, zigzag ironwork,

slanted conveyors. Squat transformers

fenced in. Flashing NCB lorries,

white-hatted Dinky men.


Dynamite day: crowds stand behind barriers.

Their mouths come open, thick dust
boils up and up, and through the clearing

for the first time what lies beyond:

the backs of houses, light green fields,

horses easing up, a line of poplars.

Now the open curve of the new road,
the billboards for retail and office spaces,

families strolling by lakeside apartments,

but the sky’s a blankness, nothing but weather.

from Just Help Yourself (2016)

The Girl from the Triangle House

for Kerry Davis


A gunshot in a one-horse town
is the clack of the latch
of her garden gate. Starlings flit
to the pylons. Boundary hawthorns stir.
Our trailing feet brake the roundabout.

Lithe and angular with a paprika Afro,
she jigs behind a World Cup football.
Forty keep-ups then shooting-in;
Rigger’s drawn the short straw,
paddles in the crater beneath the crossbar,

always fooled by her touch.
The ball gummed to the criss-cross
lacing of her left boot, I’m wrong-
footed by her step-over,
undone by her nutmeg.

Simple passing long after the Evening Sentinel’s
have been posted and the three blind mice run off
with Giannasi’s Ices, until paraffin heat
sweats greenhouse panes and empty buses
flicker between the houses like cine film.

Tonight, the stone I dribble along the pavement
won’t escape me. I turn for home,
head full of those orange freckles
coming out like stars, of boots like hers,
Pumas with the white flash.

from Hearing Ourselves Think (2009)

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