Jazz since nineteen-fifty-nine


Rounded off, penned in

By the careless chattering

Of lesser city royalty

And aspiring champagne socialists


The five steps of composition


The evening staggers on

On in broken movements

As convoluted as it needs to be

Teasing arrangements

Simple as sweat on walls

Sixty solid years of cigar smoke

Precipitate in a glass

On a lung, under tongue

Inside an ear canal


If I died now

It would be as a big, bald man of sixty

Face down in a bowl of lukewarm linguine

French ‘seventy-five in my stiffened claw

Disinterested mistress by my side

My face a mask of contentment

Her menu masking embarrassment

Old Marat


Scatters rice for ungrateful birds

Feeds the three black strays of the disused lot

At home, he was a shoemaker

Lost a finger to the machine of his trade

Paid for his mistress to join him

She took flight as soon as she’d landed





A baby rabbit will push his face

Between two walls, ears folded back.

A brown 9mm round fired into linoleum —

Though exposed, stubborn and steeled

Against all pronged voices

Or fat, pinching insults.


Not for comfort,

Not in the bookdog’s ears

(Folded and forgotten),

Nor in the sleeve peeking

Out of a coat cuff —

Asking to be tugged

To be trimmed with teeth.




The corners

The underarm nook,

The upturned mouth,

The eye and its pink slime,

I have always sought the corners

Of mouths, of rooms, of hot, hollow

Thoughts like rogue Mercuries,

Silver bodies, poison planet,

Distant messengers,

Round and boundless.


Though I have never

Seen the middle of you.

In a silver hollow-point hole

I bury my face and wait

For anything to happen.




My eyes fix upon monument for a giant

And in that state I covet —

Were I that tall. Were that body mine.

In my auspicious youth

I had hoped to master manhood

Only to masterfully refuse it.

As I hold myself to the highest standard,

That which only the Übermensch could meet,

I am distraught at every petty failing,

My unterwäsche drop around my feet.

The Iron Horse


A ravine widens between the great iron horse

And I, fumbling for my camera

Cars curve around my desperation

They must understand

I sense the quietening sky

Purple nightshade dyes nimbus clouds

Stuck by a poison arrow

My vision dims with the day

Impulse commands

The great statue all but disappears

I caught it too late

New Pitsligo


Up north past Ironfield, the Blackdog Rifle Range,

Trump’s pompous golf course for unhappy god-kings

And the pretty oak limbo of Old Deer,

A six-sided diner levitates among the trees,

Solid green on five sides, endless low sky on the sixth.

The solitary watchtower, a field scout in peacetime.


The patrons know and understand each other.

Red and blue fairy lights dress up black pipes.

A middle-aged flower child approaches,

Crosses one leg over another,

Welcomes, lists off specials,

(She works here, apparently).


A wind-up gramophone and an electric organ

Doze in separate corners of the room.

Spirit in the sky‘ on the sound system,

Falls parallel to fluttering laughter

And the rattle of toy train wheels

Against toy train tracks.


A red LED sign repeating:

... how on earth will I find you
when all my searching is done
out of this world, you remind me,
there are more worlds where this one came from
how on earth will I find you ...

A cuckoo clock chimes, simply.

A caramel and ivory waiting room

In the mind of Ivor Cutler,

A rare Sylvanian daydream.