Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fear of Lifts

Am I more scared than you?
Not scared, perhaps, just very nervous,
As they trundle you into the lift.

The nurse asked you
A hundred questions
About allergies
When you last ate and drank
Did you have any loose teeth
But she didn’t ask
About your claustrophobic
Fear of lifts.

You smiled
As they wheeled you away
Reassuring me
A small and routine operation
Half an hour
And you’ll be back
Dozy, no doubt, and smiling

Having braved the lift

Only twenty five more minutes
To wait then.
How these absences
Remind me of our love.

And when you return
With your smile
The weights that hang
Along the edges of my self
Are lifted

But then surgeon says
I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated
Than first we thought

Friday, March 25, 2005

Losing Track

I’m composing a note
With a heavy pen
An empty station glides by
A sprawl of factories
Suspended in the middle distance
And then canals
Pylons, B&Q, motorways bend
Back lit by a low-slung blazing sun
A confetti of silver birch trees
An empty sky
Saves a vapour trail for later
The Virgin train
Trundles through Heaton Chapel
Rib of chatter
Spotlights in near empty carriage
Park and dogs
Littered track
Houses tucked beneath the bank
Young lad heads for home
In kit with low-slung black bag
Bright red bin with silver graffiti
Tired shops
Not so pretty lives
We slow and slide into the station
I stare
At the blank page

Saturday, March 19, 2005


A black wind
Gusted in from the sea
And salted our dreams
As we slept
Between blue sheets

I stood on a transparent beach
And gazed down
At the lugworms
And molluscs
Floating beneath me

You walked towards me
Shimmering with heat
Without your shell

I woke
And listened to the troubled flight
Of the owls
Heading for the island
Heading for home

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Mime

A white dog hunts for his master, the Mime
A young piano accordionist jigs about
Showing up his father with flash arpeggios

A February evening
And we are sitting at an outside table
Overlooking the Piazzo Della Fiori

The friendly flat-faced waiter
Suggests Jill might like a whisky
She settles for a Martini

The Mime makes absolutely no sense
And we struggle to find the lost plot
I guess it doesn’t translate too well from the Italian

The scent of roses rises from the market stalls
We give the Mime a Euro
The Gods of Silence mark time

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Sistine Chapel

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
The Akia crowd carries us forward
Towards the Sistine Chapel
At an excited snail’s pace
It seems like we c
over every exalted inch
Of the four miles of Vatican corridors
Gazing at tapestries, details, paintings, reliefs
And potted New Testament histories

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We shuffle on our pilgrimage
And I lift my feet and the crowd carries me towards the Big Match
Towards the Sistine Chapel
Delighted that Michelangelo has passed a late fitness test

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We finally decant into the Sistine Stadium
And the room, and ceiling, is breath-taking, and beautiful
And we gasp, as do the other five hundred tourists,
Crammed onto the terraces, moving towards the touchline
No cameras! No cameras! bark the officials
But everyone’s holding out a phone
As if to bless the ceiling
Or catch a whisper from God
Sending the great story though the firmament
To the folks back home who couldn’t afford the ticket prices
And to all those outside, anxious to hear the half-time score
And little flashes flicker over the crowd
Like incandescence on the waters
Where Jesus might have walked

Head to nose to back to front to shoulder to side
We later pass the secret rooms of the Vatican
The closed bookcases and arcane ledgers
We browse the many retail opportunities
Gather our bags from the cloakroom
And are spewed into the reality
Of a cold and refreshing Roman rain
And the voices in the market place cry
Buy the Pope’s Likeness!
Buy a Virgin Mary key ring!
Buy an umbrella!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rome Arrival

Late evening
and we arrive at the Colosseum Metro
to the applause of thunder and heavy rain
But as luck would have it
an umbrella salesman is at hand
to sell us an umbrella

We wake to sunshine
And the knock of hammer
and cold chisel on old stone
Through our fourth floor window
We glimpse the Forum
I doubt if they’ll finish repairing the lift
before the end of our stay

Rome Dream

I dreamt of Joseph
A crow was circling
and Joseph had made the crow
his friend

Now that I’m wider than awake
I wonder who the crow signifies
Joseph’s mother?
His girlfriend?

Or maybe it was just the usual
random fragments of my imagination

Now, as I walk along the ruins
of the Forum
I watch a piebald crow
picking over Rome’s bones.