You pilgrims don’t be

Melancholy; every leaf

Finds its own sunlight


Island - Spring 2003



I am a zoo, and all my untamed animals

roam free among the fountains and kiosks.


They paw and pad through the litter

left by the casual visitors. The big cats

are on the roofs of the café and administration block;


their tongues flick pinkly out of their lips.

Their eyes, shoulders, haunches, limbs

full of nothing but fierce purpose. They watch


with latent fury, waiting to rend and tear.

The stag stands looking haughtily over the heads

of the crowd. The monkey leaps and fawns,


searching visitors’ hands and pockets

for crumbs. He grins and chatters

angrily when refused, while the giraffe looks down


in bewilderment. All my bright birds shriek in scorn

at the lurid colours of visitors’ clothes,

their toys, lollipops, cameras.


At night, when the visitors have all gone,

my animals come back to me

with angry questions.


Lines Review No. 132



Kids with short haircuts like to win,

red-faced and sweating, they stamp the frost slick

beyond the frozen puddle, to lengthen the slide.

Others watch the edge and centre,


piece the universe together

from kits of unlikely components.

A lone mystic boy blows phantoms

of steaming breath into the low sunbeams.


Girls are wise, waiting for life

to remind them of what they know.

Their skipping rope describes

a wheel, constantly turning;


playground dharma. And their shadows

stretch half across the playground.


Lines Review No. 132



First the moth, caught in the lampshade

like a lunatic, hurled

between his scalding vision and the cell-wall.


And the spider, slinging sailor-like

high ropes, or bunched

in a patient little fist of appetite.


Next the daddy-long-legs, forever lost,

reading the wall like a foreign language in Braille.


And once, miraculously, a dragonfly,

rustling its wings in the still, inside air,

round the room bewildered, and out again,


bearing its beautiful fuselage

with all the unnecessary dignity

of heartless creatures.


Dark Horse No. 4



There are bad connections

            and wrong numbers.

Answer machines record nothing

            but a curt click.


We don’t want to talk about it

            over the phone. Faceless silences

sadden and bewilder at the other end of the line.


We get cut off, lose the signal

in tunnels and under bridges;

it’s never all said in a phone-in.


But here on this hillside in Wester Ross

            the phone wires sing in the breeze

and the silent stars shine their ancient light

            into our listening hearts.


 Northwords No. 17