Saturday, 21 January 2017


(Appearing in my new collection, 2017.)

Stuffage, n.  a jokey term for stuff, things; material with which something is stuffed; figuratively, details added to a scene to aid its realism: eg, in a painting, television series, film.
That’s you on the far left
or at least your arm and shoulder
plus a smudge that might be
your head turning
you were toe-to-toe
with immortality
all the others foursquare in shot
went on to rule the world
or anyway hammer its bones
till the birds fled
to the passes of the moon
a shame then
that on the cry of hold it
you heard your name
wobbled your place
finding out after
that the name was only almost yours
and anyway belonged
to someone the photograph
hadn’t planned to know.

You were fourth anxious customer
tumbling out of the shop
when the coaching-inn next door was surrounded
and the fleshy absconder
lying low as a potman
in the Tudor-village-cum-petting-zoo nearby
was brought to book
you could have stolen all the moment’s light
but the chap tumbling out before you
saw fit to pause
and adjust the lie of his trousers

so all the hereafter will chance upon
is a flap of your cagoule
next to a window poster
of rebates and teeth for the aged

series two episode seven it was
with that young South African actress
who during a break stepped into the space
where your shy hello was dying
and balanced her laughter on it
at her puppyish co-star
mimicking a tree.

Big do
summer in heels and sweaty humour
Bride’s lot or groom’s?
demanded a face
made for sputtering pastry
you said and said again—
just trailing a featureless day
through the grounds
so you could watch it being much the same
against a fresh run of houses
the look in his eye seemed to make you
not there
till Ah he said they’re on the move
as organdie and money and tails
massed at a distant lych-gate
Oh he said there’s…damn I should have
…look could you just hold this?
and he was gone to not listen elsewhere
you still hold this
sometimes it lounges
by the hall telephone
sometimes it scares the shelves
you searched and searched
but he and the rest
had long thrown the dust-sheet
over the church
and all was left again for the likes of you—
coat-backs disappearing
sketches of numbness on upper decks of buses
but this
this will always mesmerise
whether you move it or it moves itself
like a god strayed
from an unknown faith
speaking of those
who have the trick of sunlight
and whistle it to unveil them
wherever they choose to be.