Sunday, 25 March 2007


It’s soft and gooey to the touch,
A chocolate bar left on the dashboard
On a hot day. You can feel the pliancy
Of it through the limp red wrapper and the foil
Tongue that peeks out the ends with a wicked glint.
It holds the promise of sweet stickiness smeared
Across lips and the imprints of fingertips
Running in smudged circles.

© GB 2007

The Squirrel is Dead

I saw it lying on the paving stones
More stiff than the stick that snapped
When I tried to flip it over.
I don't know why -
There's something about death that
Makes you want to prod it and poke it.
It wasn't that I was checking for breath,
The squirrel was unquestionably dead,
With its mud splattered fur,
Pink gum where there should have been a lip,
Little paws raised to its eyes, in fear perhaps,
Perhaps disbelief,
And no sign whatever of its tail.
It seemed almost as though Nature itself
Was trying to deny its nature
By burying the bedraggled corpse
Before anyone noticed.
As though one day I would absently turn and ask,
'Where is the squirrel that usually hangs from the feeder?'
And you would say, 'I don't know,
Perhaps it has gone away'.

© GB 2007

Thursday, 22 March 2007


I keep them in the drawer under the bed,
In the space that has stood empty
Since the nightmares left to frighten other people’s children.

Formed like the fishing nets of peasants from villages
As remote as your life was to me,
They hauled you from your bedroom, down the hall
And dumped you into the La-Z Boy of old age.

My memory does not reach to a time that they were not about you,
Paired by your bed in patient expectation or clinging to your feet
With a devotion I could not match.

Their rubber soles are as smooth as ice.
Mama threatened to throw them away after you slipped on the tiles,
But you refused to take them off, then hid them -
Snugly stuffed into the pockets of your overcoat.

Sometimes I would dare to touch them while you slept
To the sound of the television speaking in tongues.
I would trace their navy webbing to the music of your language lost to me,
While they, understanding, traced the purple filigree of broken veins
That meandered out of your gaping trouser leg.

I once felt your toenails through them,
Running my thumb along their edge.
They were hard as hooves and threatened to cut
The weave of the rope that always held you,
When I could not.

Now I keep them in the drawer under the bed.

They fit me perfectly.

© GB 2007

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Portrait of George Dyer Talking by Francis Bacon

He is perched on a stool, centre stage,
The carpet, textured like a fuschia tongue rasps at
The contortion of flesh wrenched by your brush.
I can make out the bubblegum bulges of chest, a knee, an eye,
His mouth a blur of motion, every lip movement superimposed,
Streaking with black and pink the roaring white daub of teeth.
All else twists towards groin, knotted with your desire
As though all muscle and sinew were unwound from here
In a vicious struggle for control.

You have performed a terrible violence,
Your brush has hacked at his body like a butcher’s knife
Slashing off limbs and trimming his features.
With your palette of diseases of the mouth
You have interrogated his bruised body
And left him trapped on the stool trailing viscera,
Looking like an hors d’oeuvre on a stick.

Yet here, a slight lifting of his head
A concentration of fine strokes
In the flick of a fringe -
Lovingly detailed.

© GB 2007

Saturday, 3 March 2007

The Dead Swan at Fyfe

They did not notice the wintry landscape
As they hurried down muddied paths,
Their protective goggles mirroring
The sky – grey as felt.
Amongst the gathered reeds and sedges
They found a solitary Swan;
This was the first reported, with him started the count.
They saw, as they pulled on protective gloves,
The lifeless body
Bob and drift within widening rings.
They looked upon this wretched beast,
Their faces ploughed with concern.
All’s changed since he would whoop,
Powerfully winging from here to the arctic tundra,
And return with a proud post-coital swagger.
Their breath caught in protective masks,
They encircled the stained white lump.
Each feather weighted as with lead
From the icy water was drawn,
As they lifted him back towards the sky
And cradled his lolling head.
His angular bill flashed (the colour of daffodils)
And his dewy eyes blindly bulged
Before being dumped into a black bag,
Protectively sealed.

© GB 2007