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Every Carl or Judith meeting a Kate or Samuel
wants escape. The message in the bottle is
‘Get me out of me — be quick. I’m trapped in a tribe
of mutinous selves. Open the jailhouse door. Give me
your light and share me your heat — I’m cold and it’s pretty dark.’

Would-be amorous entanglements, our observations tell us,
reveal a consistent cross-cultural pattern. Ninety-
nine percent of all first meetings fizzle out,
go nowhere, fail to develop, remain singular.
Take Angus, slightly balding vegan, forty six,
and Bella, seeking affectionate friend, similar age.
What are the odds of lift-off here? Like millions of others
before them, they meet by Anteros in Piccadilly at six.
Anteros knows immediately it’s not going to work
because, again, they’re standing in the wrong position.

Like new-born turtles fleeing over an open beach,
desire seldom makes it to the sea of conversation.

How can his arrow strike if these couples stand too close or off to
one side? Can’t they see the trajectory of his arrow, where it will land?

Illusion, boredom, fear – these birds of prey swoop down
to seize the driven yearnings of our lust, our turtle tide.
Who calls Nature a friend? Watch that fox lope
from dune to beach, snagging cheap lives galore, flipping
them to the sky, gagging them down her lunging throat.

Angus and Bella ignore the arrow. They assume
that similarities are what matters, that chemical bonding
follows a mutuality of interests – that if they both love
ballet, rock climbing and Kerala, their identical valences
will magically fuse them.

The turtle faces blur in the desperate scrabble of flippers,
inaudible piteous baby squeaks and grunts as the young die
trying to get older. Who did you meet and when? Where are they
now? The softness of cheeks untouched, the kiss to the eyes
of ghosts. We flee together, drawing-board
lovers who meet but once, a wisp of a glance and gone.

Anteros knows they have not heard of intervention,
or fate. They want to fake it, to demand love as their right —
to be loved rather than to love, to bargain with God.

Bella and Angus, the drawing-board lovers who met but once
and died without further connection, their bouquet of roses
another sameness littering the beach.


Georgette inspired a firm massage
as she lay there on her towels
oozing sounds, mostly vowels,
as Andre stroked her fuselage


From deep in her belly she cracks twice
like distant gunfire.
Iceflows rumble, crevasses shift, debris disembarks
at the ablation edge of snout and flank.

The ancient snow monster, minutely melting and refreezing
each summer day and night, migrates down valley –
ingesting a mountain meal of landscape and weather,
spewing rock and water.

Mere atom of the high moraine, I scan miles across her back.
Nothing moves in the sunlight. Those cracks of inner skirmish resound,
deep tectonic shatterings as ice gives way –
splitting, shearing, plunging, tumbling in separation.

I have no timescale to watch galactic morphings.
Only the monster’s seasonal onslaught and retreat gives evidence –
the chattermarks, the dumps, the lagging glaciofluvial remains.
The abrading advance is invisible, inferred by outer clues.

I stand at the periphery not the core,
stimulated by massive flow yet safe on its shore.
Since nature’s beastly grinding will continue beyond extinction,
why not shoot off an imaginary timeline?

Let the impregnable drill-ship, •Jules Verne•, quickly laser
an ice hole down, blasting erratic boulders aside,
arriving deep on Dark King’s rubbled valley floor.
There, moored to random bedrock knobs, lights ablaze,
we shall plumb the multiverse anew.


I’m certain the Musical Hedgehog is a
Chinese artifact: palest translucent

jade with barely a whisper of green
hovering above frosty

Some master carver freed it

from a palm-sized lump.
Red-ochred, fossilised human

hairs are jammed down tiny drill holes
in seven even rows along its sleekit back,

quite short hairs that make the most
delectable tinkling sound

you ever heard
when brushed gently with fingers.


Cortez began his conquest of Mexico with 15 Spanish horses,
including 2 spotted ones, probably the ancestors of all
subsequent coloured horses in the New World.

Black and white magpies bring us the word
‘pie’ meaning ‘pica’, a unit of type —
inking huge letters on chattering birds?

From paper and type through feather to hair,
dawn is on fire, the mustang, the sky,
New Equi go blazing mysterious trails

while deep in a cavern lit by a torch
a gallery is hunting, it gallops the heart.
Ride, ride, fly with us home —

Come Pinto, come Paint, come Medicine Hat —
we dance in a blur with the buffalo ghost,
our arrows go flying to sunsets of blood.

Our gift from the Spaniard flashes like gold,
our Piebald, our Skewbald — the mysterious word,
the printer, the magpie — the thundering herd.


Miles below the Turkish razor cliffs two
white opposing yachts bisect the circle
in her view:

a bowl of universal turquoise calm,
darker tints upswept where winds
and currents play, all matter floating

in spectral grace, heaven gleaming
minutely off riffling waves

She never sees
two yachts crossing

They glide in silent luminosity,
always approaching
never meeting


The dice in my head are rolling,
the shootist has shot his bolt.
When the petard hoists me aloft
will I behold the target I missed?

I’m popping my clogs outdoors
under some glorious chestnut tree.
You can catch me smoking there,
gone for a goner, thank ye.