Instead of counting sheep
I synchronise my breathing
with the breaking of imagined waves
on sandy beaches strewn with shell and shingle.

Tonight I have the real thing:
an out-of-season seaside town,
this room, high on the esplanade,
a soft breeze reaching in through lifted sashes.

The usual half-bottle,
a chapter of a book and then
the days, the years return
in sudden flashbacks and slow motion scenes.

Darkness drains away and leaves
an open suitcase on a chair,
a man left stranded, sleepless,
listening to these long sighs and whispered wishes.



A fortnight is a long time when you’re two.
Before, life dealt a clean page every day
On which a little boy might scribble new
Existences, and in his carefree play
Accept as due time’s entertaining gifts.
Just running was your thing – pure force of will,
A full-pelt locomotion without shifts
Of gear or changes of direction till
The fall inevitably came. But now
We notice the beginnings of a frown,
A gazing into emptiness, and how
Sometimes when you have spoken you look down
As if to add: this garden was immense
But now I’ve grown and I can see the fence.



Why do we come to these graves? (for Joe)

By guest contributor, Chris Arthur

“One with the tide that gleams, the wings that gleam and dart”
– W B Yeats

Why come we to these graves? Why linger?
– when the hollow at the heart remains,
– when spelling out his name
won’t bring him back again,
and stay these sighs.

There are no resurrections to be drawn
from all this squared-off grass.
These stones will never morph
to living flesh, and laugh,
at our surprise.

Who are all these flowers for, exactly?
(They’re left beside a house where he’s not home.)
But, still, I’m pleased to see
how graceful is the stone
that lids his eyes.

Its face relays a line of Yeats’
chosen by his widow; but not the line
he chose himself one time,
which she forgot, thinking it not
… important … yet.

So, we come, with or without our flowers,
here, to these graves,
rememb’ring those we loved,
and the hours, too few,
they had with us.


I feel another sonnet coming on
About fine art, how every painter needs
A subject, a Forest of Barbizon,
A pretty girl, a coloured world that feeds
His hungry eyes and fuels the flight of his
Imaginings. Abstract or figurative,
It makes no difference. The trick is this:
To steal the sunlight on a wall and give
It back as feelings all can recognise.
We notice weather, aspect, time of day
In Hopper’s ‘Seaside Rooms’, we read the signs,
But why it’s sad and where the sadness lies
Whole libraries can no more explain than, say,
A hundred words arranged in fourteen lines.