‘Sharp, exciting, immediately engaging.’ The North

My poem, Old Honda, made the top five in the 2011 Live Canon Poetry Prize, and was performed at Greenwich Theatre by Claire Redcliffe. Here, in a recording made by Dan Gareh at York Street Music in May 2012, she reads it again. It is the title poem of my latest poetry pamphlet, Old Blue Car, published by Kettlebell Press in 2015, and available here.

Old Honda

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Old blue car, what if you could fly? What if,
one sunny afternoon as you slept off your latest speeding fine
in the shade of the station wall,
your dreams reminded you how?

Tired of Tesco’s car park and the twenty minute
Keighley run, wearied by all the rights and lefts,
the endless pantomime of the traffic lights,
it wouldn’t take long to weigh things up:

the moss on your nearside window
and what it might mean; the boys who snapped your arial
and could come back. Next month’s MOT;
our shared fear of the word ‘scrap’.

Better, perhaps, to just take off
on the Addingham bypass and head for the open skies
however empty their promises. Shed your tyres
one by one, like hot shoes, above the fields of cows.

published in 2011 Live Canon Prize Anthology
and appearing in Assent magazine, Spring 2012.

 

And here’s a poem written longer ago:

What I know

I know what it’s like to be the shy plain one
I know being in love is easy; loving someone is hard
I know happiness is something no-one else can give you
I know what’s happening the other side of the world just by picking up a newspaper.

I know sometimes it’s easier to do what other people want
I know the telephone makes it possible to lie
I know you can’t change other people; only yourself, and that takes time
I know a missed opportunity may not come again.

I know treading on the cracks in the pavement may be foolish
I know a lot of people superficially; few well
I know everyone has a good word for the park-keeper’s assistant
I know dieting doesn’t work; makes you fatter.

I know you should never pick fruit for wine when it’s raining
I know the dangers of smoking, but I still do it
I know you have to make allowances for some people
I know yesterday only seems safe because we know what came after.

I know when you’re young, it all seems possible
I know when holidays arrive, one is often too tired to enjoy them
I know living with others is about compromise
I know the more a dog barks, the less likely he is to bite.

I know most people are fearful of change
I know there’s no such thing as a perfect stranger
I know when you’re ill, it seems everything is ending, has ended
I know I still miss you, especially on Bank Holidays.

Published in Risk Behaviour (Smith/Doorstep Books 1993)