Blackbird at the door

Up on the hill
a blackbird pecks at parchment leaves
around the sill of an unknown grave

and I remember how you fed raisins
to your private blackbird, which
came to your door and knocked,
unlocking your smile

Further away two jays
play, skipping from tombstone to tombstone
like angels
and I am alone
in their blue world
tiptoeing nearer and nearer

They see me coming, and
I see them going:
they do not ask for raisins, and
I do not smile: I hear no knocking
at the door

Not yet

Easter rabbits

Is that Easter I see in the distance?
Or is it just a pale brown hill
in the shape of an egg? 

Small figures that may be rabbits
make their way up the hill,
which looks like chocolate –

though it is hard to explain
why chocolate would not melt
in the Mediterranean heat 

There seem to be trees on the hill,
and two or three rabbits
seem to be climbing the trees, 

which is not the sort of behaviour 
one would expect of rabbits
unless someone is trying 
to kill them 

Nothing is moving now
and I am losing interest:
it is getting dark
and I have a busy weekend ahead 

I expect the rabbits will disappear 
into holes in the ground
and, for all I know, never be seen again 

unless they pop up unexpectedly
out of a hat
two or three days later 

You never can tell with rabbits


Walsingham shrine

Staying behind Calvary,
I lean out from
my bedroom window
and try to touch the crosses,

which are too smooth
and too completely empty
as if someone had slipped away, 

avoided the issue,
and planted a garden instead,
the grass too short and bloodless

No words, either:
no stones to roll away

More like daytime TV 
than a resurrection

Occasional tanka

out of the sun
just like the red baron
you fire shadows
into the evening sky
tear my poor heart in two

I left the ash
underneath the altar
near the pancakes
ran heedlessly down the road
as if it didn’t matter

I try to see
the pain in your body,
your wisdom too
but all I can handle now
is the light you let fall

Death by erosion

From Newton Cross to Peter Black, water always wins:
light fades and tumbles from the fatal Ness
like Clare and Snitterly,
victim of the stalking storm
that haunts the coast like a serial killer:
patient and deadly, carrying an axe

The crazed, compulsive collector 
pins churches to the seabed like drowned butterflies
or as traps for unwary Shipden boatmen
who barely remember Whimpwell Green

Distorting reality for the sake of neatness,
the prowling Foulness murderer returns again
to smooth the edges of the ancient map,
pitch ploughmen into ditches

With no law to defend them,
the naked householders of Happisburgh
shut their eyes
and bare their necks, 
last layer of skin peeled away
by the prophetic sun

That kind of blue

I’m blue
not sticky tape blue
or empty cheque book blue
or even isn’t-it-cold-out-there blue

not slow-guitar-with-saxophone blue, not
my-blood-is-showing-through blue

not dark, deep thunderstorm blue
going under blue
passing through blue

No, I’m sky blue
no-limit blue
escape velocity blue
slipping-into-a-strange-dimension blue

knife-edge blue
fractal fjords blue
impossibly blue

all right, gazing-into-your-bright-new-eyes blue

You, you
make me
that kind of blue

Just in case it’s me

The blood red moon is hidden by cloud:
just in case it’s me, I walk round the house
and look out of other windows

but the cloud persists – so thick it could be fog:
just in case it’s me, I check the Cathedral,
and from my bedroom window I can see the spire
reaching up to heaven

Just in case it’s me, I look out of other windows
and heaven is certainly there
though it may be hidden behind the cloud

or fog: just in case it’s me
I reach out and touch it

I am the moon – there is blood on my hand


I have an epiphany:
there are no kings in East London

Late on, when the children
have been slaughtered
or at least thrown like gold
into the desert

I see wise men leaving,
having made no deal
even in their dreams
but rejoicing

and a star following,
or maybe a celebrity
getting out

I go back to sheltering the sheep –
the few that remain –
singing sacred songs
and welcoming strangers
in case they are angels

But something has changed:
I am no longer outside
on my own

I head for the future
holding a tiny piece of heaven
in the centre of my hand

Looking for a kingdom

Split light burns back
from the buildings below the headland,
the sea silent and shimmering after the storms

On the street of the snake
the houses are empty
and the stones are treacherous
but there is a ship waiting below the abbey:
it carries gold, frankincense and
myrrh, and a degree of wisdom

I leap on board: the captain
steers by the stars, remembering old stories,
and we look for a kingdom
so strange and so fragile
that only a new-born baby
can open its gates

The voyage will be long –
thousands of years maybe –
and the kingdom will become harder to find
fading into the background
and off the map

I brace myself for the return of the storms
and the flickering snow:
in the darkness the gold
will go missing

Playing the queen

You live in small rooms
like a queen

Outside, tiled roofs and alleyways,
curtains half-closed,
narrow courtyards,
choking in the night,
suspicious circumstances

I go to fight your battles
but forget to pray
and am deceived by someone nearer home

I reach for what is taken away
and so do you, pretending
you no longer care

I look for another day:
mature women in misty, broken windows
beckon me

It is a trick:
there is no way of telling who will win

I play the joker, and wait:
you play the queen

I love the queen:
I cannot resist