When in the presence of humour,
you smile, pear-shaped,
chest rising to meet,
to not be left behind.

Eager to rhyme,
match their wit,
higher and higher,

Their bitterness
funneled through pipes –
back-turned spray –
you smile knowingly.

Tearing of paper,
bored target,
flutter of absurdity,
your loose smile.

Shadow of contempt,
a hazy outline,
your warning fire,
skyline of words.

Your voice steady,
in command,
present the iceberg,
drowning beneath.

The day,
a stitching of smiles,
left behind.



Rose garden

In the rose garden,
the scent of rain,
a touch,
arbours stand with sunlight,
gardeners in green
dream and scrape.

cherry and cream.
sunset gold.
Doris Day,
yellow kingdom.

Trumpet song,
upright on thorns,
looking for music,
the circling crowd,
the crouching photographer.

Somewhere, between,
a hand holds
one rose
watered in the downpour
high over the willow
the crowd scatter
as the ducks swim,
the sky thunders.


Now or never

When they told me to rise,
to hail them as ‘Sir’,
to line up against the wall,
to keep a diary and sow my dreams
with miserable tasks whose lonely terror,
to this day, can erupt my nights in violent sweat,
then breath of heavy, sweet relief – there being no exam,
no hovering executioner’s axe;
when they harried me from sleep,
into livery and tie,
the bell scurry,
cacophony and hole
to answer my surname so that I may
drag bag of curled books
from dread to dread,
how did I possibly obey?
I knew nothing better.

From Museum Studies – Poems of Retail Assistant