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Angelus Bell


Near is very far
Space, time,
Dark star.
A black hole
For a wandering soul.

There’s a vastness that appals
White walls.

Scurrying through
The corridors
Of the Christie, this Monday morning
Meeting Emile, yes, named after Jean Jacque’s eponymous hero.
Married at the weekend, it has spread,
He fears he’ll soon be dead.
His Caribbean lilt

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Bryter Layter

Morning rain soaks my clothes, my hair, my skin,
I do not care.  I am  not there.
I study the mortar between the crumbling bricks 
in this old wall built by the calloused hands of men who’d served
on the Somme and who’d been called ‘such dirty scabs’
in 1929 by striking Salford dockers;
they’d hung their heads but they had mouths to feed.
They’d taken any work they could get,
Men carved th...

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"As I have not worried to be born,

I do not worry to die." Frederico Garcia Lorca.

What remains in the purple garden of home?

Tattered garments, frayed memories,

resurrected in all honesty.

Now your hands are around your lover’s waist,

eyes shining with tears,

tasting the brandy

swilling around your mouth

looking out at the azure ocean.


So far from Barce...

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Fear in a handful of dust

Words cannot echo mood swings
It’s impossible to convey
The tingling numbnesses
Of grief on this ordinary day.

The semi-detached daze
Of depression;
The tight closing-in upon oneself
That foreshadows pent up tears.
The fear that accompanies the aloneness
In everything I do,

Mood meanders like an Ox-bow lake,
And can take years to gather to a flood-tide
To knock me off my feet

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When you came to me, through the open window
All the torn envelopes of me came into your hands,
There was nothing in them — just love that you could throw away –
If you chose. You threw it straight back to me, I caught it, we were away.

You gave me a lot of praise with your eyes
For being alive
I thought you are desiring reciprocation, but you weren’t
You, too, just wanted love.
You were...

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The Kalash, descendants of Alexander the Great's invading soldiers, have lived in isolation in Pakistan for centuries. Now this tiny pagan tribe is getting long-due recognition as a distinct religious, linguistic  and ethnic group.

The hindu kush
like the mountains of the moon
and the valleys where we lived
with the fairies and the spirits of the wood.

We bred the shen - the brav...

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Silence from my mother,
Silence from my brother
Silence from my father,
Silent lies my friend.
The tearing silence
of my son, pain without end.

In my mind voices,
voices of the dead,
who speak to me instead
of hiding fast away
for all eternity.

They speak to me
of all the things
we should say
to those we love

My reply?
This broken-hearted


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Screw loose

“The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one's mind, is the condition of the normal man.”
― R.D. Laing, 

They say there's something wrong, something missing,
in the boy with the golden hair,
his genetic type is very rare.

There's an absence that appals:
closed doors, night sweats, white walls..

Is it the thing we first forget

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This empty northern hemisphere


Now we’re on the border
heading for Nineveh
for the Christians trapped by Daesh scum
tranquillisers are no good for what is to come,
nor are religious beliefs of any sort.
divert your mind, the manuals say,
love the space
enter the tranquillity of bees,
I know about my weapon
I service my Tabuk Sniper Rifle 
people appeal to me to kill
the murderers of their children, the rapis...

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For Kassia: A Bold and Beautiful Woman, a Byzantine Poet


Oh Lord, my God,  I fell asleep
No longer in a state of grace
No longer a beautiful woman
Beloved by the Emperor,

But a harlot, like Mary Magdalene,
A sister of the Christ
Dazzled by the myrrh,
By an acre of sorcery, by a terrible moon
By a time of the month
By everything too soon..

Give me your tears
Let me wash your feet,
Wash away your Golgotha fears
We all die Lord


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Today our cat Molly,
has gone away
maybe to die.

She is a tabby
small, neat, clean
splayed after her first
kindle of kittens. 

She loved Charlie,
our big black sloppy labrador
she rubbed herself against him,
and watched him curiously
as he ate her food
rude boy....

After Charlie's death
she was rarely in the mood
for a collie/spaniel cross.
She seemed lost.

The ve...

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from swerve of shaw to blend of bray

“In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven!” James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Catching my death
it's an English melody
it's mean travelling
from heat to freezing cold,
from culture, religion, sexual orintention, trans-this, sans-that
sans fuckingeverything.

This means n...

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Outfoxing the Furies

Fluid the medium by which we desire,
Heavy the limits to which we aspire
Lift ourselves free on the wings of a dove
To practise perfection by drinking his blood.
The illusion of earth is splintering fast
As we grab at the air, as we fall at the last:
Witchery, Witan, Wicca and Wizard
Pursuing the furies is why we are feared.
Opening spaces and stretching out time
In this flurry of words a...

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The Pontic Greeks

General Mahmut Şevket Paşa (1856-1913), the Ottoman Commander-in-Chief, tells Orthodox Patriarch Ioakeim III (1834-1912), Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, in June 1909:

"We will cut off your heads, we will make you all disappear."


This sonnet is composed of the ashes of my heart
It is about the genocide of a community torn apart.
Over a million ...

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A lump of concrete, lodged in my stomach,
Settles in, sets off a dragging
Motion. An Ape-like me grunts
‘Set me free’. Nothing happens.
And all of a sudden the whole sullen world 
Of getting and spending and moaning
And groaning is all at once so utterly alien to me.
I walk in cool air, hear the blackbirds sing,
Watch this season’s robins take to wing,
Their flight works to keep ...

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Janissary 2

Janissaries were the eldest sons of Christian families in the Ottoman Empire who were taken as infants from their families and brought up as strict Sunni Muslims who often became the cruellest soldiers in the Ottoman armies - but not always.

I'd love to wander far from this meagre time and place.
Back to the ashes and the dust of what I remember
A besmirched, a frightened, a human place,:...

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A pilgrimage of sorts

The wonder of you in the just mundane
Brings me back to black again
Nothing, under heaven, remains the same.
The glint, the glance, the gaze, the smile,
The unconscious optimism of the passing mile
‘It’ll be OK’, ‘I’ll live to fight another day.’

Wrong, so wrong, I wish I didn't have to say.
Look down at the myriad of wild flowers
On your coffin along the river Bollin's ox-bow way

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My parents were Christian, Serb,

I remember the icons in my mother’s house,

The smell of meat on feast days.

One orthodox Christmastide,

I think I was nine or ten,

My parents made me hide when the Turks

Came to our village in Kosovo again

Looking for boys and women.

My father was ashamed.

He hung his head.

I pretended I was dead.

Hiding under my sister’s bed.


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In late May I lost my best and oldest friend to suicide and this week I lost my mum to Alzheimer's. This is an elegy for for my beloved grandfather, Pte Jack Prince, and for those two much loved people. 


The red-gold glow
of stormy autumn
is in my mind
leafy-mist exists
lights this late
October dawn recalling me,
to the design hidden in words,
which swirl like smoke

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“When you .set sail for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long, full of adventures, full of knowledge.” CP Cavafy


Curlews cry, an Aegean sky: a boat
lifts and falls. The heat of noon, a lethargic
gloom, she's tracked with light this star-struck night.

Moon-shadows cast, it's cool at last, this sweep
and swell, this road to hell. This ship's becalmed
with false alarms, this attic n...

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Chris remembered near water


Birdsong flung into fond recall
A dry-stone wall,
A dry-stone wall.
Fleecy clouds on this mid-June-day
Don’t fade away,
Don’t fade away.

Daffodils lead him into a wind of change
On Anglesey, he could not refrain,
To begin again
To begin again.

Pale-blue eyes on his snow drop face
His wildflower coffin seen-through lace,
Seen-through lace.

On this grassy bank
I invest m...

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A malevolent curiosity


In the Apple Market
your south London twang
accompanied the many undulations
of time.

Your wild androgyny,
mirroring the mirror
of yourself
skimmed off the water
of childhood,
like a shaking dog,

You lit up, spot-lighted,
an iridescence of sound

Your songs were the water
I needed
your terse verse
spreading underground,
along the circle line,
watering imagina...

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Forensic examinhation,
of scattered remains:
fragility of the body
furtherance of the truth
the devil-in-the-detail
condemned at the root.

A roof for my daughter,
a precipice-by-the-way,
peculiar ways of thinking
apply today.

Russians worship icons,
The Chinese eat smog,
Tom-All-Alone’s deliverance:
was a  false prologue.

Remains of thought and feeling,
embedded in th...

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A loving heart is truest wisdom

Opinions can be ignored, mocked,
that’s fair enough –
satirists like Jonathan Swift attacked English hypocrisy–
by suggesting in A Modest Proposal
that the Irish poor eat their own babies.
Some people were offended. 
So what? It worked.

No-one has the right not to be offended
I am offended everyday
by the complacent  Daily Mail-ism,
small minded holier-than-thou-ism,
prevalent in the ...

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The Mathematics of a Genocide

We are the Êzîdî
We have lived in Mesopotamia these 6000 years
Our eyes burn with the fire of Zoroaster
We suffered 72 attempted genocides under the Ottomans
These attacks failed to extinguish our flame
It always came back again; always the same
Until now; August 2014. Now we are
Scattered from Sinjar, our home.

5000 men murdered
5000 women stolen into slavery
And still the west do...

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If all the days of all the years were made of wine and gold
I’d roll them up into the light of intelligence in one dog’s eyes.
I’d pat him and stroke him and tell him unashamedly how
This friendship across species astounds me every day.
So rock me, my good old boy, befriend me like the wind,
You’ll be with me when the gates fly open and death walks in
With the shaman-spirit that wil...

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In the presence of my dying mother
in the presence of a broken heart
in the centre of it all 


Slink back into that black hole
of shadow,
emerge from the sea shaking like a wet dog.


Old father Sun
burns my thin skin
leaves me dazed,
head spinning with grief
the thief of time.


Here it is, here it is, all of it
this nebulous thing
called life

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Taliesin: Radiant Brow


An old, Welsh witch once said this:

"Taliesin, don't be sad if you're alone
On Ynys Môn you have battled mightily
Despair will bring us no advantage.
No man sees what supports him
Courage is invisible. Study The Mabinogion
God will not violate his promises.
We must suffer in Gwyddno's weir
Where our stand against the invaders
Will end in defeat! We must learn how to fail

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Two and a half questions in search of an answer

"You like nightmares?"
"You like giants?"
Maybe, giants are here?
Maybe, nightmares are here?.
For sure - these are big questions?
                 these are big questions too?
I like such questions
Do you?

Giants are coming to our piece of sky.
To have a party. With melonade.
Is it a high sky? How can we know?

Of course, half the problem's ours
Half is hers, of course.
But is the...

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A Psychiatric Disorder


I done me best when I was let 
Oh yes I did: whistle-blowin, liftin' the lid
I think I always knowed it'd go wrong
Nuffin fer a laugh, nuffin fer a song.

A hundred seas could separate you
From me, our sea of troubles,
Fear death by drownin'
The old queen said.

On one in a thousand years of nights
Parcel me up and remove me from sight
The cubby-hole under the stairs
Was for ...

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Linked arms, looking into the future,
my daughters, in jim-jams,
bought from the Sunday markets,
off the Thame Road,
their beautiful young faces!
I picture a world
imbued with all the scattered sadnesses of time,
so rhymes this over-flowing mind of mine.

Looking then seeing,
you, as you never can be again,
with all the holy blemishes of youth
leaves me here, bereft,

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Shifting shades afflict the ghost of David Rodinsky.         
As he returns to his room in Whitechapel, London,           
For one last look at Aramaic and Hebrew text.             
Which provide for the hex of disappearance.

                                  Where he came from nobody knows.                               

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Like the irritating buzzing of a fly
Like the monotymy of day
Unchanged black on white
Shadow and shade follow me.
Will the same fall from grace
Happen again? Or will similar
moments find us weeping sleeping
And just not occur? 
Day passes day as we drift away
Months pass until an action occurs,
Playing in the theatre of the absurd,
Tomorrow will bloom into day
Before death comes this ...

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At the pomana - the death feast - I missed him most
I am relieved to know that under the stars of this cold, pellucid night
The ghost of the gypsy soldier I killed is not without a home
No Romany man can live alone, our women are not alone
We carry our home in our hearts, our women wear topaz and dance
No, we will never-ever part. The man I killed is part of my family.
Gorgers and t...

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Walking solo

{for my dear friend Chris Proudfoot 1951 - 2022)  


Who the hell can see forever?
Wild is the minute, clear is the sky
A world of smell and sight drifts by
Portals of discovery abound.
This newfoundland: sheer cliffs
Flowers, vivid Mesembryanthemums
From the Cape of Good Hope.
The all round invisibility of you
Distracts me from the flesh and blood ,
Of all these half-created

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Early June


The night comes late in early June
Reinforces my gloom of heart. 
Time passes as I turn on the light
I sat here last week thinking of you
Sitting without reading, was a surprise for me
Who should I talk to? Now you are gone?
I could talk freely with you
Sit equably, while you read Sophocles' Greek.
You were alone in that fucking  house you hated
The idol of Greek friendship

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Those blue-remembered-hills

For my dearest friend, Christopher Proudfoot, 1951-2022. “Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis.  



My son, my brother and my friend
Are shades I follow in my dreams.
They offer me swift glancing gleams,
Of all t...

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At last words



I do not like living here
There are rats in the attic
And a big black crow is squaw-king
At my window, demanding entry,
Crow says it's a  hypothetical 
supersymmetric counterpart
to a quark, having a spin of zero.
I think not Mr Crow.
That be all ye need to know.
Mr Talking Crow. Talking bird or no.
I am haunted by these words you know.

(life consists of these little tou...

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Black sun on the run


Born a mute

On my back sans coat

 dressed in black.

no fringes of lace

hold me 

In place.


Intact at last

I fling curses 

at the stars

bury my wishes

In jars.


Turn these shadows into shade

hold my breath

for an age

 kiss a lion

In a cage


to evade

an early grave.


Delphiniums are for love,

wild honey for tas...

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A Rainy September

This rose for all the world

For you

These tears for all the dead,

Those empty words of morningtide

This ever-present dread.


Those cloying smells of perfume

on the dresses of the rich,

This workman stumbling homeward

his body in a ditch.


September’s moon still shining

on this old planet’s doom,

Her wind and tide conspiring,

A ...

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Our kid

Salvador Dali Portrait of my Dead Brother, 1963 
I’m sorry, Pete, that I rarely visit where your remains
Were laid that terrible day in December 1996. You are often
In my heart. Forty-one is no age to part from all you love.
I know how brave you were. When your kidneys finally
Packed up you were twenty-one and in love. I only found
Out after you’d died, that you’d written to ...

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Translating the rain


I wish I"d known from the very start
Which mountain the sun came from
For your eyes can be deceiving in rain
Fountains are rain corralled and I'm tempted
Into sleeping on your neck. A servitude of roses.
In which the green bay and the rolling sea spy on me
Deeply unclear like raging seawater,
Lagoons on tropical Islands are lost on me.
Kind of like fantasy.

I wish I'd known fro...

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Suicide of a friend

"To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.” Sylvia Plath

A faint whiff of truth pervades
my washed out mourning
on this, your death day.
Those words ‘death day’ terrify me,
make me realise it is the finality
that separates life from death.
You and ...

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Endurance is a flower,
A bulb in winter’s depth,
A rare-repeated wonder:
A sin we must forget.

In this-world-of-my-creation
In this world-of-make-believe:
Cancer, the death of children,
Are falling autumn leaves.

I see a road before me,
A road I walk in vain,
A road through Trawden, Lancashire
A road that has no name.

All roads lead to heaven
And all roads lead to you
And a...

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Catastrophe: the banality of evil

The bustling grey, ironically named, tie
of the guard was frayed because dried
in front of a roaring fire
currently His-story carves times into lines
segments ignored run free; like the Shoah
aboard a train, or a drop-dead brash Polish gate.

In the distance candles
flame and gutter
the future stands back to front
like candles lit in a death camp -
silver, tepid, deadly ca...

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Hanging by a thread

the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
― Sylvia Plath, 

Her tightly veined hands cup water
I stroke her hair gliding over
Her forehead I bend to kiss her
She repeats my name and I hers
A little gentle verbal tennis
That exhausts her. She leans
Back into the pillow. My sister
Slightly shifts the sheet above
The cellulitis on her leg....

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When your eyes are full of tears
but you cannot cry
when you think
you’ve conquered your fears
but can only sigh....

When you rise to the occasion,
and hold yourself together,
in rain or shine or stormy weather,

And your heart beats fast,
And faster still,
As if you’re running up
the steepest hill.

Memories tumble out,
And stop you dead,
And you cry at last,
For all y...

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(for my mam)

When my eyes are full of tears
But i will not cry
When I think I’ve conquered my  fears
But I can only sigh.

When I rise to the occasion,
And hold myself together,
In rain or shine or stormy weather,
And my heart beats fast,
And faster still,
As if I'm running up the steepest hill.
Memories tumble out,
And stop you dead,
And you cry at last,
For all that's left unsai...

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Horatio Mosley Moule, committed suicide, Cambridge, 1873

Horace had slashed his windpipe with a razor. He was covered in blood but conscious and was able to utter his
last words "Easy to die. Love to my mother."



Who'll cancel this undergraduation?
They'll sneak a plot of consecrated ground for you - 
All those muttering priests, your brothers - 
Chasing their blues away
On this, your burial day.

Across these empty fenlands Purit...

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Free speech


Imagine the ego you'd need
To say "comrade, we're on the long march
And the killing has begun. 
20,000 purged so far. It's essential
We  know who to trust
As we march over mountains and
Learn to drink dust." The gulag,
The concentration camp. The torture chamber
All designed and working well
To convince the unwary
That 2 + 2 does, indeed, = 5.
And so save you from thinking for ...

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