The conference

-How do you discriminate between the staff?

He asked, leaning back in his chair.

The place was an old winery

That never made enough money, so now they held all the university meetings here.

-Why would I?

The woman answered.

-How do you decide who is good and not so good?

The whole room of people stirred uneasily.

A fox and a hare had run past the window earlier; I watched out the window

Hoping they’d return; I began to daydream.

I remembered the night the old man started to cry in my office.

He was telling me how he had cut down German citizens from his Spitfire in World War 2.

They hadn’t done anything,

He just had bullets left.

He saw them crossing a field,

They were old men and woman and children

One of them had shaken a fist at him,

He could see their faces,

So close was he as he flew over them.

He turned and unleashed those barking pipes.

He cried that night as he remembered.

Now we sit in a meeting and argue about adjectives in our communication documents.

The old man had said to me that night:

-It’s a terrible thing to grow old

But it’s better than the alternative.


Motel nights

Listening to mozart on my iphone

at night, after a work conference,

I have returned to my home town.

Staying in a motel my mother used to clean

she worked hard at a hard job.

As a child I would spend hours in the laundry with her,

the smell of linen and hot air,

the cold feeling of strangers.

Tonight there are voices seeping through the walls

the same old sounds

that come with motels.

The road busy with cars,

the drunks singing in view of CCTV.

I wonder if I am paying too high a price

for a life like this.

Love is light in a dark universe.

Joan met Robert on a rainy day in October,

Robert was drunk, he came staggering out of a bar and fell down between two parked cars.

Joan took him home, and he stayed.

He was 22, and she was 29.

She let him sleep in a nest of blankets in the living room

And the next day she found him going through the books and records

She had collected in her lifetime.

They became lovers

Rolling together in the long nights.

The universe is naturally lonely,

But sometimes things connect and join

And explode

And Joan and Robert connected.

For the first time, they weren’t alone.

But Robert continued to drink and when he didn’t come home

Joan would have to search the streets to find him

And sometimes she found him and sometimes she didn’t.

It was too much.

So when she asked him to stop coming to see her,

Robert left. She cried.

Robert stood by an open window in a cheap room he took

And wondered if he’d always be young and lucky.


On asking an old man directions to the nearest men’s toilet.


To Bob Dylan and the person who wanted me to be more accurate with my titles.


Standing outside the supermarket

An old man reflected on this part of town.

“The one in the park is good,

They’ve recently put some money into it,

But the toilets by the railway station are not to be trusted.

They stink, the drug users hang out there,

Men blow each other and all the depraved shit in the world goes on there.”

The old man bit his lips as he spoke and went a little red in the face.

He folded his arms and sat down on a bench. The timber slats creaked under his weight.

I looked around the streets

It was quiet; a few cars moved about in the distance,

But here, where we were, no one moved.

 Being still early in the morning,

The sidewalk was wet from where the shopkeeper hosed it.

The old man looked as if he had just crawled out of bed,

His clothes were stained and crumpled and a warm smell

Of sweat and urine radiated from his body.

He was settled in his place now as if he intended

To be there all day.

“I used to sit here with Jack,”

The old man went on and then spat into the gutter.

“But he died last year.

We used to be close friends but now I don’t have anyone to talk to,

It’s changed my day a lot; I do so much more thinking now.

And I don’t come here as much,

Only three days a week,

I go to the library instead.”

I thanked him for his advice on the toilets

And I headed across the street to the park.

In the men’s block, I find a young man collapsed on the floor.

A brown bag underneath him

As if he is hugging it to him on those cold tiles.

He wears a hood over his blond hair, and his face is pale and marked with acne.

I talk to him, but he doesn’t move, I nudge him with my foot,

I wonder if it’s drugs.

I call the ambulance, but don’t wait,

I leave those toilets and go back to my car.

Looking back to the supermarket, I see the old man,

and wonder what he’ll make of the excitement to come.


Buy my new novel here: Anvil Soul


Young Entrepreneurs

I sat waiting to get an x-ray

In some depressing medical centre

When a thin man with long black hair walks in,

His eyes are crooked as if they are spooked

And fled to opposite sides of his skull.

He has a slimy look.

He sits near me and leans forward,

“Do you think they’ll be long? I have a meeting of the young entrepreneurs tonight,

The YEM.”

“I don’t know,” I answer.

He gives me an unhappy look

And then his eyes glance up and down, taking me in,

Sizing me up.

His crooked eyes do not seem to like what they see.

“We’ve had a lot of rain recently,” I continue.

“Yes,” he snaps and looks away.


A pregnant woman walks in,

A man wearing the blue uniform of a nurse follows.

They start talking.

“Will I have to wait long?” the young man interrupts.

“I don’t know,” the nurse answers and turns back to the woman.

“Only I have a YEM on tonight.”

No one speaks to the young man again,

No one likes anyone.

The long haired man walks away, probably to find someone else.

“What’s a YEM?” the woman asks the nurse.

“Young entrepreneurs,” I answer her.


After my x-ray, I see the young man in the street.

He is leaning on a black car,

The bumper is kept on with black masking tape.

He is yelling at someone through a phone.

There is a large sticker on the back window that reads “KORN.”

I wonder what that means.

His yelling continues as I walk away,

The day is sunny now, but it is humid,

Due to all the rain we’ve been having.

Side Chick

Sitting in the city café

A woman near the window starts crying.

Her friend goes to stand up,

A look of disgust across her face.

“He told me I’m his side chick,”

The crying woman says

Before the other one leaves.

I watch her out the window

As she walks away down the street

The other woman– the side chick- cries for a while and then leaves as well.

I wonder what a side chick is.

The waitress comes and stands beside me

I realise I’m the only one left in the café.

“They didn’t leave any money,”

The woman says.

I look up at her,

She is old, with lines on her face

But still pretty.

Her arm is a sleeve of tattoos, and a tear is tattooed on her cheek.

I start to ask her what a side chick is

But I change my mind and give her twenty dollars.

She talks to me a bit longer,

About the people, she sees every day.

I tell her to keep the change, and she smiles.

Written During The Presidential Debate

Edith Stillwell, 94

Lies in Stillmouth Church Yard now.

Obese woman in Church yesterday

Did not feel well that night,

Now silently rots

In her bedroom

No one knows, no one checks

No one misses her yet,

Purple and black she turns.


The day has dawned, the sun visits the streets

And illuminates the pebble concrete of the shopping centre.

Lie still beautiful lover, see the new day born.

Let your hair spread on the pillow a little longer.

You are all he dreams of,

Your hips and stomach,

The firmness of your thighs.

You are young

And soon to be a mother and wife.

The walking stick

We went walking in Ireland,

From Sligo, we went, along blue-green paths

Occasionally damp, occasionally flowery.

She carried as much weight on her back as I,

Though her legs were much thinner, she was strong.

We stopped into a small shop, to buy her a walking stick.

Her eyes lit upon a carved length of yellow beech

Inscribed with Celtic patterns of interlocking design.

It was light but strong.

The day outside greyed over

And the shopkeeper turned on his light.

His long smiling face danced in the shadows.


Along the path we walked

I watched her tracks as she went ahead of me

The small round impression to the right of her footprint made a pretty pattern.

We stopped again in the afternoon

And drank lemonade and ate fruit.

“Men are the most tragic of the sexes.”

She said to me through half closed eyes

Her full lips wet.

“They are most truly alone.”

I did not answer.

Looking back now I see that she had already left me.

The last I saw of her was on a London street.

She propped the walking stick against the railway station wall,

And looked back only once.

Monday morning.

The dew from the grass sits lightly on her woollen slippers

Her breasts push against her nightdress

As she lifts the washing to the clothesline dripping

With last night’s rain and tiny spiders.


The smell of spring dances in the air

The first sun across the rooftops is warm

And the fog of diesel

From Bus 121 wanders across the yard like a friendly dog.


 Down the lane, between King and Ray Streets

School students make their way slowly, laughing

Kicking a ball against the iron fences.

Their voices are rising, washing over the quiet morning.


As she watches,

The boys with their damp hair

And the girl’s neat braids,

She sighs.


At twenty-one

With two children and another load of washing to do

All that she once hated about high school,

She longs to do again.