He turns away,

vacant eyes searching across a

void of

chairs and

desks and blank faces

for something he doesn’t quite know.

The teacher repeats

his name but he doesn’t move,


say a

word, and some of the

faces stare, some of them sneer.

Body hunched,

fingernails long and outlined, he


from shadows

the faces cannot see,

and murmurs ripple through the room.

He steps back,

soiled socks peeping from outgrown

trousers –

arms shielding  

a mop of tangled curls –

and the murmurs turn to laughter.

A hand rests

on his shoulder, the laughing


something flashes

before his eyes and the

shadows disappear from his mind.

The teacher smiles

and he feels her warmth,

and for the briefest of moments,

he is



Scarf pulled tight, she

stares with forgotten eyes at

bags and suits and high heeled shoes 

plundering the High Street.


The smell of fresh coffee and fried food   

lingers in the late-November dark,

whispering seductive thoughts;

taunting her with memories of a different time.  


She pulls the scarf tighter and the

rain begins to fall. The

suits and shoes march purposefully by,

hypnotised by life; 

drawn to scheming shops with atmospheric lights

enticing them with more suits, more shoes;

more happiness.


Hiding in the shadows of her cardboard home, she

listens to half-conversations about

injustices and regret; the words

spat into the night air like

spoilt milk.


An expensive-looking coat with a depressed face

disappears into a restaurant,

ignoring a waiter with a drawn-on smile,

face glowering at a little white screen.


A bus pulls up outside,

her eyes blur,

the smell of coffee returns,


and the rain hits

hard against her knees.

Chestnut Fire



He sits on a frozen branch
like a small stain on winter;
smudging the white canvas with
russet and chestnut fire.

The night had been long and cold
and morning light had come late;
spiritless clouds draining the
colour from a sluggish sun
that barely rose; now just a
smear of orange lingering
on a cold horizon.

Arctic air breathes around him
and trees tremble; sieving the
scene with sugary ice and
blurring his chestnut fire.

The dawn chorus fills the air:
a battle of melodies,
chirps and tuneful tweets above
fences and silver-lined roofs…
A door swings opens and the
arena erupts with shrills
and exploding wingbeats.

Feeders swing, breadcrumbs scatter
across a hushed garden but
the chestnut fire remains and
hops to a garden fork.

A small stain on winter,
a smudge on white canvas,
the robin sings his winter tune.


venus 2


Oh, Venus!                                                                        

When you come out at night;                                     

when your beauty unfurls                                                           

and you shine brightest of glimmering pearls,                     

I’m smitten; in awe of your sight!                                                                             

Oh, Venus!                                                                                        

You are Earth’s planet twin,                                                        

you’re the closest by far,                                                              

shimmering high like a twinkling star;                                     

I fear for the life that you’re in.                                                


Oh, Venus!                                                                                        

Roman Goddess of love,                                                              

Morning Star of the skies,                                                           

second in line and sixth largest in size,                                   

I ask: are you happy above?                                                       

Oh, Venus!                                                                                        

With volcanoes of fire                                                                   

and your poisonous air                                                                  

with no water and your oceans laid bare                                               

is love what you crave and desire?                                           


Four and a half billion years                                                        

you have travelled in space,                                                       

inspiring from darkness and gloom.                                         

Despite all of your fears; all those sulphuric tears,            

did you dream that with love there’d be room?                 

Oh, Venus!                                                                                        

My Morning Star!                                                                            

Goddess of love!                                                                             

If you saw how you shone in my eyes,                                   

my Venus, my beauty, my glimmering pearl,                       

you’d realise how futile love never dies.  



Swallows swoop low

over gold-tinted fields;

silhouettes of grass

haloed with apricots and ambers and

waving in the evening breeze

like freshly scented hair.


The sun sinks;

the gold fades and

a squeeze of deep orange

pours across the horizon.


Cool air sets in

but still the insects endeavour;

floating and flitting

like motes of dust

between swaying shadows.


The sun slips away, leaving

a tangle of darting arrows

on a dark blue canvas

brushing tips and

swooping low on

a late






The light on her face

forms a ghost in the dark

reflecting her featureless eyes

like empty stars


Her smile is desperate


and lost amidst the millions

of worlds that see her and don’t see her and

orbit in galaxies of their own


And it is winter inside

and the pane is black;

refracting the ghost into a

blur of pictures and pouts.


Friends who aren’t friends bring her hope,

bring her hits, bring her likes; bring her hearts that

resemble love.



it seems like it’s enough.


But as planets spin

and comets collide

she devours black holes

with touches and taps


An addictive abyss

a ghost in the dark


Those empty stars.  




You look at me like

I know you

different, yet the same somehow.


I smile, I think,

beneath a puzzling clock

but something else stares back

like confusion, perhaps, or



Like, maybe you’re

not who I thought you were.


I hear my children’s laughter

linger in empty rooms

smelling of old toys,  

and the walls age and

change and stay the same

like me

and some of it makes sense.


But mostly

you look at me

like I know you  

and I feel that



I am doing something right.





night in

Gotham City

high-rise lights

twenty degrees


White shirts

polished shoes

balcony banter

vodka and wine


Old Spice

R & B

sunburnt skin

funnels and fire


Heading in;

into Gotham

special deals

free first drink


Sticky dancefloors

foamy mist

Sangria cocktails

down in one


On stage

dancer’s cage

robot moves

on the pole


John Travolta

cardboard box

getting hazy

little fish big


Scatman John

Humpin’ Around

I’m A Believer

Boom Boom Boom


Catching glances

looking good

feeling sick

need a drink


Sweaty bodies

losing friends

finding beers

on empty tables


Walking alone

completely lost

chilli kebab

down my shirt


Aimless wandering

dream-like confusion

rising sun

where’s the hotel?


Wallet missing

memory wiped

staggering in

sick on floor


Nothing pulled

counting friends

someone sleeping

on my bed


Checking suitcase

finding money

50 pesetas

for another drink


Heading back;

back to Gotham;

back to the night

when the

time was



Marsh Harrier

Silhouetted by a grey sunrise,

a shallow ‘V’ emerged from the fenland mist;

gliding low along the reeds of Hurn dyke,

mere metres from the ground.


A cold wind tugged from the east

and its form faulted, just once;

flattening, then twisting, before

disappearing behind a saltern rise.


My eyes traced along corrugated earth,

the undulating curves of the saltern

a reminder of an iron age;

of salt-making and industry; of history, and settlements.

Now just another ploughed field,

the ancient mound receded

and the ‘V’ reappeared;

a steady movement over a blurred horizon.


Perhaps for the last time

I crouched beneath the old horse-chestnut trees;

nettle stalks and grasses limp at my knees.


It was larger now; fingers wide and upturned,

black tips emerging from

broad bands of brown and white.


He called out to me,

tail fanned and wide, twisting skyward; his

ghostly scream a

warning in the air.


Flickering above bare branches he

turned towards the east; his

black outline once more a

silhouette in the sky.


I wondered whether

he would return in the summer

when the horse-chestnuts were gone and

the houses had been built.


He drifted away, form and colour

fading back to grey.

A shallow ‘V’, low and gliding over the fields, the

marsh harrier then merged into the fenland mist.



Jeremy Barron