A sad little station

on the Hampton Court line,

the place where the fast

slowed down for Surbiton.

It overlooked a sewage farm

we’d cycle past, a short cut.

Lower Marsh Lane

more or less summed it up.


Sad? Not for us.

John and I would trainspot there,

watching the Merchant Navys

and Battle of Britains

round the bend and thunder

towards us, while listenin...

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Dust-up in Leamington

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Did we somehow know the score?

How could we? We were only students,

mostly.  Five hundred outside

the gates on a November night

when the “Milk Snatcher, Union Basher”

came to speak at a Leamington

girls school’s speech day.


Union basher? Some small measure

that the education minister

had taken against students,  

hardly an augury.

Milk snatcher? She’d cancelle...

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Chuck Berry's Ding-A-Ling

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A freezing night in ’72,

around the time of Bloody Sunday.

Tension in Coventry. But rock and roll

can save your soul; and mine

needed saving. Halfway through

my first year, I knew

I wouldn’t make the grade.

Johnny B Goode,

lift me from my misery.


I had nowhere else to go.

The wolfish leer; part-devil,

part cheesey showman.

The duck walk, Maybelline, Carol.


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Little Green Man of Berlin

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They were glad enough to see

so much thrown in the bin

when the Wall came down;

but not the Ampelmannchenn,

the traffic light’s little green man

with his jaunty, Erich Honecker hat.


After his deposal

by the west’s more staid cousin,

there was outcry. Now

Herr Everyman’s cheery, rapid gait

sets Berlin’s tone on carrier bags,

coffee mugs, T-shirts.



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A Foreign Wood

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The empire called for more men, and they came.

Shipped from sub-continent

to western front,

Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, East Africa, 

largest volunteer army in the world.

They weren’t ready for the cold;

couldn’t understand new officers

when theirs were slain. 

Some wounded, shipped to England,

died and were buried

in a corner of a foreign wood

with Muslim honours...

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Murder mile

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Rome lays bare its bones,

a body dissected for sightseers:

in a corner of the square, the spot in 44 BC

where the Senate met and Caesar fell.

Pillars, ruined temples, marble lavs

uncovered, for the cats to colonise.

Let developers

gnash their teeth in vain.   


In the nearby shadows of a back street

small shrine to politician Aldo Moro,

found in the boot of a...

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The Oldies


Mature English Blonde lady

offers no rush massage.

Old postcards wanted

by private collector.

Continence care:

bed protection,

pads, briefs, accessories.


Wanted: Dinky toys, model trains.

Underwear by post.

Understanding attractive

Continental lady offers

memorable massage

to discerning gentlemen

in discreet Marylebone surroundings.



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New Year's Eve, Tewkesbury

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Listing buildings, confluence of rivers,

shops full of bric a brac. Ghosts

in the museum, compiled

by clairvoyants: an inventory

of restless spirits. Well-kept secrets,

alleys and passages,

unsignposted Wars of the Roses

battlefield, tracking the blood shed.

Naked trees in midwinter,

the turning of the year.

Within the abbey a woman’s voice,

calm, compassionat...

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