Dalliance with a Ballot Paper

This has got to stop.
I’ll admit at first, that in the past,
the post got me excited
when it contained your invitation,
but now I know what happens.
Yeah, I know, it’s me, not you,
but self assurance still evades
your fervour for a tarty wink.
One of us is getting hurt if we do this again,
but who remains monogamous these days?
Curtness doesn’t suit you,
and thirty seconds in the Scout Hall
just doesn’t work for me.

I’ll tell you what.  Spice it up.
I know you’ve got to be here
and some men can’t help themselves.
Think how the grown-ups do it:
the percentage cut of German-cool proportion;
the Australian, transferential flow
of racy preference.
OK, stop thinking, love,
we’ve government for that.

Commercial Radio DJ

When Earth’s core is extinguished;
and the deserts blow forest and steppe
into history’s mirage;
and the lost ecosystems of cities grind down
to their unthreaded facets of dust;
and the only thing left
is the winter of breezy redundance,
chattering over the
length and the breadth of humanity’s grave;
he’ll be back again after the adverts.


Anybody’s slippers, or other footwear gone awry
should keep their faded prowess to their owners
and not be thrown to daylight,
just like sex and car parkers
paralleling stress within some inches of the kerb.

These things should be unspoken, unobserved
and held together as the trinity of a man’s,
unholy mind. I don’t think it was the trainers,
Kirsty, but the assignation of the tyre with the
pavement that kept your knickers at a distance.

Regime Change in Sheffield, 1999

The red flag wouldn’t fly again when the Liberals took over
and the metaphor extended down from Pinstone Street,
the length of that mid-morning.

What a nondescript beginning.
Other ambles down The Moor had yielded porn or cigarettes,
underage requests for liquor, clandestine tenners offered,

but by midday the conduit was muzak,
selling fair-to-middling in aloof department stores and as
sure as panpipes fluttered round the qi of beige feng shui,

Devonshire Green’s black-fronted eyes,
whose background noise was still in bed an hour ago,
were vacant recollections, and as unlikely as this seemed

within the frenzied headspace of a student’s tainted virtue,
even Darnall had gone yellow. Later on in lectures, the
manner of postmodernist excuses

would shrug aside the socialistic baby boomer, whose urban
policy aggrandised through its self-regeneration, succumbing
to spawn Ponds Forge and Meadowhall,

salacious structures hung in natty clothes.
As mock-industrious was the nightclub, the effetely disengaged,
but conducted reverentially as casual upholstery.

Moving Day at the Council

Stuck beside the toilet down the corridor,
a dark, wide silence strikes the hole
left where a wall of cabinets once stood.
The departmental kitchen, its brotherhood
of wisecrackers now ensconced elsewhere,
shows the whites of its eyes to whomever’s
left: cleaners; removal men; the caretaker,
but keeps its secrets hidden: ‘Novelty Shag
Award’ winner for three years in a row;
illicit goings on at the Highways Christmas do.

Downstairs, the last rites are performed
with sandwiches, pop and crisps by souls
softened by inertia, determined to replace
the bland bother of an office move with
nostalgia for asbestos and a parking space
and tales retold and overblown yet larger,
whose ghosts reverberate around the pall
of pining words before the wrecking ball
arrives: “Oh, he was nice, and very witty.
Knew how to handle the Scrutiny Committee.”


Fiddler’s Elbow, A472

An advertisement flakes over second-hand
cars, its arrow suggesting Cilfynydd.

A cemetery hangs in the visual frame,
close but contently divorced.

Things only pass, never landing or leaving,
like the brain, or the daylight, which

come back again and again and again
from the slow desiccation of thought.

Queen Street, Cardiff: 24 June 2016

“My hyberboles are as nothing compared
to the events to which they refer.”
Marshall McLuhan

after Robert Lowell

Mahler swells,
piped from in my pocket
round my electronic membrane.
The ears glaze the bubble shut,
the onset of a greater death
inaudible.  Bevan never stirs,
bronze and silent on his plinth,
a ripened monolith.

The card shop sweats the prickled whir
of fingers at their furrowed choice
for this year’s message; gain or loss,
reimaging their same old voice.

Yours spoke as an eponym.
Now Foot; Mikardo, synonyms
of conscience are as dead as logic
warping in nostalgic heat.
New voices seal the sedimentary
decades’ diagenesis, but
sentiment, that softened sense,
speaks loudly in parenthesis when
uttered this time round. What couldn’t
happen then has happened now.

Ideologues are passing, Nye,
on Queen Street and through overreach
of June’s renewed myopia.
No sight, no sound is guided through
the guile of early summer’s word.
Cards are chosen, lines are picked,
but our voices aren’t the ones we heard.