Have a poem in Crannóg Magazine-one of the best Irish Literary magazines-which launches in Galway on Friday. Available in print and Kindle editions. ‘Crannog boasts a vibrant blend of local Irish writing and the best of international writing talent, which creates a feast of varying styles, perspectives and cultures for readers within each issue’
A link to the web edition of Brooklyner magazine-with my poem ‘Fog’
Two years ago I visited Alexandria for the first time. It wasn’t the most opportune time to visit as it was shortly after the arab spring and we appeared to be the only Europeans walking the streets but the levels of harassment were the worst that I have ever experienced and it did leave a sour taste. I had come prepared to give generously and to support local businesses but-after we had been ripped off by a taxi driver and been tugged and pulled to ridiculous levels my tolerance levels were seriously diminished. It was a thoroughly disappointing day because I had been really looking forward to seeing a city that had once been a centre of enlightenment-the city with the first great library, the astonishing Pharos lighthouse, spectacular art and culture.
After the visit I found myself reflecting on how extreme poverty erodes self esteem and leads to the kind of begging that has no dignity and demeans both the beggar and the person being asked to help-and then i wrote this poem.
On foot in Alexandria
I took my imagination for a walk
Unwisely from the port, the teeming streets
Were like my head, a restless cacophony.
Poverty screamed like a coyote
Trash gathered flies where babies crawled
To play in gutters, does anybody care
For children, in this wreckage of a city?
Torn awnings flapped for five minutes of repair.
I struggled to make a connection.
The first city of civilization
Where the Pharos dipped its light to show
All the wonders of the age, its library
A golden beacon of enlightenment?
An Arab guy was tugging at my sleeve
Urgently, clearly frustrated with me
‘This is Alex’ he said, ‘you need a taxi’
This poem appeared in Floodwall magazine-published by the University of North Carolina
By the Pier
Such years we had, exultations, bliss
Now there is patience, our dull routine
Sitting in the park it passes me by
Your strange new world, so jealous of it’s time.
Mine leaks in steady drips, like rain from trees
Lulls me to sweet slumber, three times a day
To the smell of fish and chips from the pier
A distant brass band, the herring gull squawks.
Once at Salerno, many years ago
I killed a man, he is with me now.
Somewhere eastwards a storm is brewing
Far away the sea churns, unobserved
Where there is no other wish than this.
This poem has been published a few times-In BURNER originally i think. It was written in Costa Coffee on Division Street in Sheffield, quite rapidly, whilst observing the interaction of a girl and her boyfriend who were next to me for 30 minutes or so.
Sunday morning, and you dawn
After too much Chianti you wake up late
To a crush of vibrant birdsong
In a violent light of city daybreak.
The languid bourgeoisie are still loafing
Smugly over orange juice and ‘Daily Mails’
Your eyes sting, face smeared with mascara
The face in the mirror blotched and pale.
A flood of images; Saturday night
Your thoughts drop like pebbles into water
Each with a splash of avowed escape
The ravenous dreams of an only daughter.
The iPod opens a drowsy subtext
Of other lives and Sunday stirrings
Sweet bathos of the loved and lost
You doss around for hours, long past caring.
If I could show your future now I would
The claustrophobic web of vague deceits
And the little spurts of assertiveness
Before your sullen, brooding late retreats.
I would find a city to fit your soul
Then pack your bags and check the times
I would book your wing and say a prayer
And find you space to say your last goodbyes.
Platform 8 for Camden or Bloomsbury?
With your books, your secret looks and violin
All packed and ready for a long sojourn
To save your dreams; but how could I begin?
The global creative writing scene is plagued by the same archaic, hierarchical and narrow minded structures that stubbornly resist change in society. A preference to instinctively look down on on-line magazines is one symptom of this prejudice.
Burner magazine is a superb production and one of my favourite, new genre productions-begin with the music issue which contains a great interview with world-treasure Yoko Ono
I have decided to select a small selection of unpublished poems to present on here.Many magazines will only accept poems that are new and unpublished, so it is always a difficult process of evaluation, deciding which poems to protect in order to preserve their literary viginity. As a result I have a virtual cupboard of poems that languish unread.
You look like someone
waking slowly from a dream
feeling your way
back to consciousness
out of love.
I could have told you that
sorrow is twinned with bliss
but you were too bewitched
by pheromones, a strangers lips
the intimacy of the tentative kiss
the smouldering beauty of his eyes
the complex nuances of chemistry-
to unpick, the tangled web of lies.