There's a missing person in
a draft dodger, truant, man on the run,
deserter, defaulter, garden fence
an into the wide blue yonder absconder,
and I found mine, or he found me,
and together we sauntered out for a paper
or a carton of milk that wasn't
to match the one that would turn to cheese
while the cheese beside it turned
leaving the bed unmade and the garden unseeded
and a bit of a mystery to explain.
The wagging tongues went worrying back
to the gap in the hedge and the
hole in the fence
and to how they'd somehow always suspected
there was more to the case than met
and if only they'd known as they walked the dog
or pushed the buggy round the block
that that was the definitive last Good Evening
it would have been easier making
of what they now saw was a chain of events...
Meanwhile smoke rings float to the
prompting this out of body sensation
that I'm looking down on a pile of
artistically folded there on the shingle
and thinking how I'd left my life
like a field of snow which a confident witness
would swear blind he'd seen me
yet find, when he came to prove his point,
no tracks to show in the
(Winner, National Poetry
On the comfortably swelling
knoll of khaki
Rest the originals of the executioner's hands
That hold, above the bowed head of the city,
The giant crossed scimitars.
Of a face suddenly not two storeys tall
Bristling with eerie affability; Behind the eyes,
A depopulated landscape scavenged by winds;
A deserted platform piled high with unspeakable
Luggage: crudely roped trunks, seeping suitcases.
His laugh is the clang of a tailgate
Releasing an apple-avalanche of boots; his handshake
Intimate, crushing, like a bear's rotten-breath'd embrace.
Give us our daily
Refuge from the eyes
At the breakfast table,
On the tube, on the train, on the bus.
Sandwiched between the anorexic catwalk
And ads for a proven hair restorer,
The corpse hailing a taxi on his side,
The women wailing in their regulation black
The lovers from across the ethnic/religious divide
Caught in the cross-fire crossing the bridge,
Can be kept safely at arm's length
Until the appointed stop
And then abandoned to the wind's blind browsing,
The rain's indiscriminate sympathy.