Hometown, April 2020

Swathed in black, a man puffs on a joint,
And grins at his speakerphone.
The fit lads cycling past
Don’t partake, but they applaud the effort.
Back damp with sweat, a jogger splits the air.

I pass between golf courses at the edge of town.
Out where they build Roman arches over modern villas,
And live as Romans-
Born of action, not imagination.
These green-belt legionnaires,
Denied even the catharsis of an orgy.
I am not with the legion, I am not posted here
To be the spear that holds the empire up,
I’m just passing though. Or so I tell myself.
So I keep moving.

Down at Sopwell Nunnery, where Henry’s goons
Delivered the faithful from their morning masses,
Cut their straining rosaries,
And shoved them, blinking, out into harsher light,
I stop for a moment to catch my breath. Places like these,
Chernobyl, Aioi, Mo’ynoq,
We ash them over with apocalypse,
And leave ’em for the birds.
But we are never done with the dead places,
Even once they’re done with us. Even amid the ruins,
We go raking the leaves and tending the saplings,
Dredging the still earth for a response.

In filmic dusk, even the dead hanging blossom
Is worthy of wedding dresses,
Chiffon for all cancelled plans.
For each action a reaction,
For each runaway, a homecoming.
Now I know the third law of the suburbs,
The more you push, the more they pull.



Fever Dreams of the First Six Months

So, inevitably I caught some kind of bug as my autumn term is wrapping up. I’ve been mulling over my penultimate offering before I fly back to the motherland, but I feel a bit feverish and ill-equipped for prose. So I thought I’d give you some weird poetry instead, based on some of my favourite photographs of my time in Japan. Haiku, naturally. Continue reading “Fever Dreams of the First Six Months”

Impressions- Dusk in Hiroshima

At the end of my shift, I tear off my tie and loose my collar;

shopkeepers shuffle raiments for the evening crowds.

Pachinko parlours swallow businessmen,

decking the dusk with glitz-

offering absent-mindedness in lights.


Nine white birds glide on the wash of the Motoyasu,

and a bevy of cyclists float around a bend.

That old hulk of brick and metal snares the tourists.

And the flame of peace still burns,

a monument built to honour a contradiction.

a beacon of shame for a century in absentia.


The City forgets in the warm glow of Remembrance;

sagas itself in the passive voice,

exhumes no bones, but only stories.


Elsewhere, the night is a deepening pool of neon,

no sane man could swim in long and not in love.

A streetcar streaks past.

On anonymous sidestreets, restaurants rise from slumber.

‘Fire up the griddles! We must eat’

The city ablaze with a million pangs of hunger.


Out west, the lights are no longer soluble

But fall like threads into the thickening water.

The heartland ends here,

tailing off into institutes and schools and clinics.

A bruising bouquet of clouds, and surprising silence.