Dead Air

I love the absolute silence of a Sound Stage

before 7 when I have to

stumble to find the working lights,

open my script and see pictures,

people moving in space, stories

unrolling like Sinbad’s carpet,

thoughts popping, feeding on the

dead air and the faint smell of

old movies.

Summer, Almost

Soft insistent rain summons smells of

tarmac and roses

dampened dust and delphinium

to the court of

shortlived Summer

uncomfortably compressed between

three cavorting cousins

hope decline and death

determined to deceive them

just once with an

intimation of eternity.


Tiredness is a driverless tank

careering across nomansland

firing at random,

reloaded by the ghosts of the

shocked-dead crew, their aim

better than when they were

alive, their targets sadly

not always combatants.


Care is a pantechnicon

packed so tight its

axles creak, bulging with

big deeds and tiny kindnesses, the

cracks stuffed with sacrifices,

burying the boxes at the bottom,

tight-taped,  unlabelled, wherein

impatience, irritation,

exhaustion, fear, despair are

close hidden, not

wanted on the voyage.

The Great When

When will it be, the

great When? In which

month, which season,

which year?

Will the body be

fit for purpose when

when arrives? Will it

welcome when with the

pleasure of a glass well-filled,

liking the lack of

who, or will it

slap when’s face with why



“And….” brings background into motion

“…action” cues actors into a busy,

hopefully realistic street-scene, the

boom-swinger alert to the

shadows cast by late-afternoon sun, the

grips alive to the stuttery pace of

people through a crowd, the crew

taut, patrolling their beats, the

clock, like the sun, running down, then the

sardonic eyes of the sound man meet mine,

inviting my ears to savour the

sonics of an imcoming plane.

I call “Cut” and the curses begin,

black looks cast up at the

slender tube glinting in the sun now setting:

actors sigh, background resets, we

begin again, while all I can think of is

couples holding hands that bit tighter,

children awed breaching cloud,

business to be done, sunset deferred, whilst
I find I cannot curse something I

wish I were aboard.

The Shared Stars

The shared stars all shine on this

moonless night, their patterns

old friends from hours spent in the

handkerchief garden of  boyhood, the

cold metal rim of

primitive binoculars still

imprinted round my eyes.


Weighted with worries

we doze and wake

fitfully but not in sync,

so each thinks each

uncaringly asleep.

In Spain

“Faster, faster!” you shouted at the

toiling donkey straining at the hill.

You were 3 or 4 and we laughed, as parents do,

at our budding bully.

We still have the pint-sized flamenco dress

and the castanets and the fan over which

you already knew to bat your eyes: because

children practice all their lives to be adults,

and sometimes they succeed.

Emptying the Attic

If instead of a hatch

there was plug and I pulled it

what would I save from the gush?

A tiny jumpsuit, ABC

dribbling down the front like

spilt milk;

old “Paris Match”, older photos;

letters from lovers long gone;

a letter never sent;

a tidal wave of books, some

still oozing old obsessions;

the M.S. of a novel;

badly-painted toys;

oodles of bunnies (did they breed?);

juvenilia—to burn if it weren’t so wet already;

“Rocky” the rocking-horse, lame now;

cards sent to my children to say

sorry I’m not there—I’m away,

busy, working, sorry;

cobwebs; dead bees; dust

damp and cloying

sticking to my breast as I try to hold onto