Tuesday, 28 June 2022



If a plastic bag picks a fight with a tree

there may only be one winner -

but if three billion bags a day

are up against trees as a whole…




Roadworks in rural parts

come with their risks:

what if the signs point nowhere

and the barriers go feral?


Hounsdown Close?

We’re bloody in it!

It’s not as if it's big enough

to make us wonder whether we still are…


Hounsdown, Hampshire is a small area within Totton that is sufficiently cut off by major roads to feel like a separate place. It’s unusual in containing Hounsdown Avenue and Hounsdown Close – usually such roads lead to the place referred to rather than being in it, or are named after somewhere else.  



The walls have eyes

Or at least this wall has one,

though I assume

monocular walls can’t see too well.



The differences

from either end of a well-lit see-through

don’t amount to tunnel vision

so much as matters of perspective.

(tunnel between Ashurst and Totton)


Fancy a koff?

What the fuck, yes,

especially as Fuckoffee

is close enough.

(Bethnal Green, London – the Fuckoffee chain of cafés has branches at 215 and 249 Bethnal Green Road - slogan 'Come happy Leave edgy')

Where phone directories may once have nestled

I plan to patent

the tele-kiosk storage system

for roadwork signs.

(Pall Mall, London)


I can imagine

his wife’s frustration:

‘I do wish you wouldn't

bring your work home with you!’





Plenty of police…

If a gang of seven bank raiders

are planning to scatter

they might get a surprise.

(Oxford Circus, London) 



We have a pile

in the country, yes –

well, in the New Forest

just inside the National Park.


Under new planning laws

Every shop must rhyme with its neighbour,

with half rhymes allowed every third premise

to make sure of some transitional variety.

(Finchley Road, London)


Look no further

for the winner of the

‘Ignore This Message’

Superfluous Signage Prize 2022.

(Penge, London) 

Has your food faded 

into an unsavoury purple-pink?

Time to sell it in bulk

to a specialist 'off grocery'.

(Penge, London) 

The God of Small Things

can find infinity -
not once, but twice - 
where we would hardly look.

(Charing Cross, London)

My fear 

is that the home of the retro
has now been consigned to the permanent past:
maybe old is not so kool as it used to be.

(Leek, Staffs)

I think I’ll be a rogue

The gentlemen ahead of me

can wait their turn, and if they don’t

I’ll barge them out of the way.  

(Leek, Staffs)


Our goal

is to score lots of goals

so we need lots of goals

and try not to worry that they are our own.

(Leek, Staffs)


The linesman is important

He waves his flag and everyone stops.

Or he waves his flag and no-one stops:

the linesman is not important.

(Leek Town 2 City of Liverpool 2 - 5 Feb 2022)

The Lord of Round Here

knows where to stand

to confirm his rights

with maximum assurance.



We have the latest

security measures.

If anyone steals this farm

I'll be surprised.



There were fears that JFK

despite being long dead and reduced to a head

might yet make good his escape.

Those fears are now allayed.


(Great Portland Street, London)


A bronze bust by Jacques Lipchitz was unveiled in this location in May 1965, 17 months after Kennedy was shot. The plinth reads 'The John F. Kennedy Memorial has ben moved for security reasons: please visit the new location inside International House, just around the corner.'


The Art Hotel 

offers you a chance to sleep beside Degas. 

Not the original, I concede.

Nor do you get a bed.

(Pimlico Underground Station, near Tate Britain)



Just how many letters

and must-be-slim parcels

has this post box had to eat / eaten

to get so fat? 

(Bermondsey, London)


Pick yourself up!

We all have dreams.

When they’re trampled underfoot, move on!


(Victoria, London)





has lost its sparkle

And there doesn't seem much

the police can do.





I suspect

this horse would never catch up

even were it going

in the right direction.


(Sculptor Kevin Atherton has placed 12 life-size steel horses alongside the railway line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.)


It's no go

the Ho Ho Ho!

Don't spend Christmas

in Wolverhampton.




It's good to see

that the Post Office has gone green:

whether they'll deliver all letters by horse

remains to be seen.


Is it true

that a flash of net

rouses more than a patch of bare leg?

Or are such questions merely gross?


(District Line, London)


How else would you expect

a garage to hold its roof in place?

I know, I know:

that doesn’t explain the trolley.





Unless it isn't OK

to be OK, which makes little sense,  

everything must be OK -

which might as well be nothing.


(Southampton Parkway)



The pink car


for its personalised garage... 

Who or what has seized its space?


(Notting Hill, London)


Why do we clean things?

Simply to make them dirty again.

You can see the state to which

pure logic might deliver us…


Is it time

this street came out

into the fully spelled assertion

of its Pride?

(Praed Street, Paddington, London) 

'When I said ‘backwards’

what I meant was ‘forwards’.

I should have thought

that much was obvious.'


How many times have I run past here

and wondered how often the owner gets called out

by people who’ve lost the will to music?

I've never seen the van not there.


If you reckon

blooms are brief

you’ve little experience

of petal-florescence.

(below a flowering tree in Totton)


Is this what you say

when there’s nothing left to say

except ‘there’s nothing left to say’

and even that’s been said?


(Salisbury Cathedral)

What does sand do?

Leak or overflow?
Either way, what does it want to be,

(Marble Arch, London)

Was this train on time?

The guard announced it was ‘five minutes early’ -
meaning we'd 'have to wait for a platform’.
We waited ten minutes.

(Euston, London)

Is it ‘better dead then red’

or ‘better red than dead’
or doesn't it much matter
to a nettle?


(Red dead-nettle  - Lamium purpureum)

That's a very yellow 

set of greens.

Are the daffodils out,

and the laburnum?


(Green Park Underground, March)

Off-season Santa

curses his luck.

He only took the job

to get the summers off. 




may be limited

but that won't stop us



(Fitzrovia, London)


As a tuber

I object


to the automatic assumption that natural is best.


(Walthamstow, London)


I have a thing

for notices.

This one roused me to such a pitch

I struggled to look away…

(Victoria Line, London) 


Clouds are made by blossom 

floating clear of trees

that rains back down as petals…





I could cope with a sky spa...

Lounging on a cloud,

too high to sense the world’s stresses

while an angel rubs my feet. 


(Bloomsbury, London)

David Hume 2022

Covid, inflation, climate crisis,

Brexit fall-out, inequality, war…

And now my shoulder’s feeling stiff again.


‘It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger’  - David Hume, A Treatise upon Human Nature (1739). Not that Hume was endorsing such a view: the statement was a means of dramatising the point that moral obligations arise from the feelings and cannot be derived from a mere awareness of facts. 

A mattress

requires a big bin...

bigger than you'd need

to sleep in. 


(Belgravia, London)


I hadn't thought

to use a chainsaw

but now I feel the constraint.

How about explosives?

(Roker Beach, Sunderland – in fact, there is a rationale: extensive amounts of driftwood wash up on this beach, making it tempting to bring a chainsaw to enable the removal of manageable amounts)


As you'd imagine

even the shadier reaches 

of Sunny Side Road

are hardly in the dark.


(Ealing, London)


I concede 

that there's a queue

with seven orders in preparation. 



(King’s Cross, London)

Suffering from pain or anxiety?

Never mind what lies between:

Something Extraordinary

Is About to Happen to You.


(Selected Spam messages, March 2022)

If you toss and turn at night

this may be the mattress you need:

pre-twisted into the shape of your movements,

always the one shift ahead.


(Penge, London)



Should trees be allowed

To strip off in public?

Maybe, in the depths of the forest.

But surely not here, so close to a playground. 


Wall doctors

were the first to crack heart transplants.

Their secret?

Different, yet sympathetic, brick.




If this is not the light of God -

and I guess it isn’t,

as he doesn’t exist -

it does feel as close as an atheist will get.


(Saint John the Apostle Parish Church, Marchwood)



So many generations

have dried their washing

on this group of trees

that the trees have begun to evolve.




What a negative

to be positive!

And not to know

when the positive negative will come…  

(at home, unsurprisingly, after confirming I had Covid-19 for a second time...)

Now I see!

I’d always wondered

which way up

the Post Office Tower should go.


Actually it’s now officially called ‘The BT Tower’, following on from an imaginative range of previous names:   ‘The GPO Tower’, ‘The Post Office Tower’ and ‘The British Telecom Tower’. At 177 metres, it was London’s tallest building 1964-80, coinciding with the period when it was open to the public – it was closed for security reasons in 1981. The revolving restaurant on the 36th floor remains famous, but was only operative 1966-71.


If you egg-speckle rain

in the lap of the harbour,

you're not taking wetness

sufficiently seriously.


(Cowes, Isle of Wight)




This may be That Shop but that isn't this shop.

Sorry about that. 


(Cowes, Isle of Wight)

This is an ethical barber's

There are no 

executions here

unless the hair is guilty.




It’s entertaining

to travel by train,

especially when they tell me

to mind the gap.


(According to a gull at Bristol Temple Meads Station)


It's all very well 

to discourage parking on this plinth

but Neptune’s been here over seventy years

and shows no sign of giving up the space.

(Bristol: according to the inscription the statue was produced by Joseph Rendall Fouonder in 1723, and moved to this – its fifth site, in 1949.  It’s close to the empty plinth / parking space from which a statue of Edward Colston was famously pulled off in 2020)

Water flows up

Water flows down

How come we never see

the flowing up?





or salt bin?

A curious choice

of similarities.



Now that the police

so rarely sport tall helmets,

traffic islands score the most points

under the standard rules of 'Cap The Post'.


(Whitechapel, London)



Perhaps they were dire

or hard or pure -

though more probably dry.

Whatever:  they r Cleaners no more.


(Spitalfields, London)

One cherry

through another…

Surely things are going

To get better.


(St James’ Square, London. I say that at a time of war in Europe, rising inflation and Covid19 against a backdrop of climate crisis…)



Can we assume

that this is the grave of a tree

even while knowing that its soul needs no burial,

already being largely underground?


(Islington, London)


Would this be the junction at which

the sophistication of drink


into the by-the-gallon crassnesses of booze?

(Shirley, Southampton)


Cherry Awards?

You don’t want a wall or a fence or a crop or cables or posts or other trees

let alone roadworks

to undermine the sweep. 


When pavements die

their ghosts

are so substantial, they could pass

for tombstones.


(Fitzrovia, London)


There’ll be a whole lot

of kissing

come Christmas in Southampton.

Perhaps I should consider moving back.


(A tree with an unusual amount of mistletoe in Shirley, Southampton. Of course, I never noticed it - let alone kissed beneath it - when I lived there)


I see the case for the back garden -

space, security, convenience… 

But I guess the fence

would sooner they’d parked on the road.


(Shirley, Southampton)


The mystery of the mystery moon

Is not what its phases represent -

circles painted on a railway platform - 

but what their purpose might have been.


(West Brompton Station, London. The further these circles are from the platform entrance, the less they are worn away and so the fuller the moons)

‘Surely you can't think it worthwhile 

to write about something as trivial 

as a transition in  leaf colour?’ 

Of course not, as you say...


I realise a white horse

is known as a gray,

but what does that leave us

to call a true gray?


(Actually it isn't so simple, as there is a difference between a white horse, which will have light skin, and a gray (or grey), which is a darker horse characterised by progressive depigmentation such that white hairs replace the birth colour, but the underlying skin remains dark. My horse-woman wife tells me that my photo is of a young roan, the term for a mixture of dark and light hair over the same darkness-under, but that the only term for a gray horse with no tendency to turn white is… grey / gray. A little confusing. Maybe there's a chance to distinguish 'gray' from 'grey'...

Just when I thought

that Brussels was super-solidly  backing Ukraine

I realised

that the city shares its colours.




I'll show you my garden

now that you’ve shown me yours.

Then you'll understand

that size is quite a lot.




I was glad

to see this

because I've never had much patience

with things that don't exist. 



So much of the city

is being dug up,

they’ve marked out some places 

for workers to lie down and rest.



The Brussels windsock

may be crude

but it does its job

with the added virtue of recycling.





we came together

we’d sweep into power.

Then we could clean up for sure.  


(Brussels - this two parts of the same broom were 20 metres away from each other)





can only get you so far.

Who, if they’re perfect, is thrown out on the street - 

and twice?



You have to hand it 

to glove in glove:

how could a poet

not express their love?


(Harlesden, London)


Would you want to be tattooed

by needles so krazie

they can't even spell?

I think it’s closed, you may not be alone...


(Harlesden, London) 

The sort of people who stand on travellators

will never get anywhere -

well, anywhere fast.

I know because I was one, taking this. 


(Heathrow Airport)

I am concerned

that their business model relies on me

when I could so easily

not have come to Norway. 





Norwegian pole dancing

is unspectacularly safety-first -

surprising, when you consider

the national tradition in the ski jump.





They love the sun here

Even the statues

can’t get enough

of the chance to get naked.




Norwegian pansies

look pretty-much like the British variety,

and, of course,

they speak excellent English.



This being Norway

one can assume that shattered glass

is a deliberate effect,

 playing on the thrill of that not being so.



How much must she eat

to catch up with a statue

that hasn't eaten anything 

for decades?


(sculpture by Per Horum outside the Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo)

The Historical Museum

is relocating.

And first they need to funnel out

the air of times past.

(Historisk Museum, Oslo)

The car in the blossom spot

does manage to keep still –

but is trembling inside

at the prospect of envelopment in soft pink fall.



Another grey balloon day 

for the annual joint conference of

the Society of Actuaries and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters.


(Oslo - assuming they have such bodies in Norway) 



Did you remember to post the shoes?

Of course I did!

Though maybe not 100%

correctly wrapped, and stamped, and placed. 


(Earl’s Court, London)

Or should that be

‘in quaking times’ –

and aren’t we quaking now? – ‘be turbulent’ –

for quiet pleading won’t achieve much impact.


 (Euston, London)

Can petals be dead?

Or are they,

in the fullest sense,

never really alive?


(AKA ‘the limits of synecdoche’)


O no

no O 

I guess

all bets are Off?




Does buttercuptopia

appeal to cows?

No way moo way,

noo way at all.


(Totton – buttercups are toxic for all forms of livestock)


My suspicion is

that you'd need to be remarkably patient

to see out the wait

for treatment here....

(Whitechapel, London)

The function

of the horizontal fence

can be compared quite sensibly

with that of the vertical bed.

(Colbury cemetery)


If you could be

young and old


wouldn't you want it?

(Nipplewort, Southampton)


Having been spotted

after just a word

of ‘Piss Off Boris!’

he left us no more than a colour description.

(Barbican, London)

In this town

they take royal security extremely seriously:

even Edward VII

is cordoned off against republicans.



 You won't have to be plastic

to live in the development

that they’re advertising here,

but I doubt it would harm your chances.


(hoarding outside ‘The Domain’, Reading)


How Your Horse Thinks

Grass! Grass! Grass! Grass!

What the fuck’s that?

Grass! Grass! Grass! Grass!


(It turned out that the headline for this article in my wife’s magazine was a little misleading: it was about how horses blink, which might be a clue to when they are thinking, but threw no light on what they might be thinking about. But it seems from what I’ve seen that eating, flight and occasionally sex are the full range, and that the rations are such that eating fully deserves two lines against one line to cover the other two matters)

A fate 

I’m pleased to be spared

is that of a claustrophobic

conifer leaf.


(Hiller’s Arboretum, Braishfield, Hampshire)


Gelly’s favourite fish

is a colour morph not bred until 2009

but now as popular as chips -

though rarely with them.


(Gelly is my aquarium-owning sister-in-law. Irrelevant fact: like all chiclids, the electric blue ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) has an extra set of teeth in its throat.) 

This is the tasteful side

of the Platinum Jubilee.

You should see the royal messes

most have preferred.


(Lyndhurst, 2 June 2022)


Anything goes

in construction site hoopla. 

Mostly we're just grateful

that it isn't hula hoop.



‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen

something I would say

is an abnormal labia’.

‘I think you’ll find that is a rose.’

(The first quote is from Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School)


Not many traffic cones

make it to old age.

Maybe the few should be venerated,

the years of pointless blocking-off forgiven.


(Saint Louis, France) 

How can you tell a devil from a saint?

By how their thoughts

rainbow or darken

the surrounding space.


(Basel Cathedral)



I know the French are partial to horse

but how likely is a foreigner

to persuade the Germans

to consume their cats?


(Freiburg, Germany)



Will six layers suffice?

Flowers - fence - grass –

trees - ivy – wall?

Then make it seven: sky


(Saint Louis, France)


The lion is fierce 

but I am brave,

my manliness buoyed

by its lack of legs.


(Basel, Switzerland)


When a lion plays football

Does using the front paws count as handball?

And if it doesn’t,

what more is the keeper allowed to do?


(Stuttgart, Germany)

The Love Lion's roar

is said to be worse than his lick.

All the same,

I'd rather steer clear of that mouth.

(lion with pink heart, Oslo)

We all have dreams

Though whether we remember them

let alone achieve them

may be for the sky to  know…




Is that a known thing?

And, if it is,

would it be wrong to be one?


(Copy from 1850 of Antonio Canova’s ‘The Three Graces’ on Stuttgart State Gallery’s central terrace)


An hour in Rottweil

Due to a cancelled train.

I saw a tower shorter than a lamppost

but no dogs.


(Rottweil, the oldest town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany gives its name to the Rottweiler breed, originally a butcher’s dog in the region).


You laugh

but these stilettos have built-in drills,

capable of piercing any pavement

as easily as a body or a heart.

(Guido Nassbaum:  from ’20 Variationem eines Gassenhauers, Basler Variation’, 1994 – Basel)


Do I play the piano?

From time to time...

Only I've been out of time

for quite a while now, quite some time...



Are you sitting


Of course:

I have no nerves. 

(SET studios, Woolwich)


What is normal?

This is only abnormal

if it's midnight

and it isn’t in Norway.


(Oslo airport, midnight, 24 June 2022

Elvis has been spotted in Oslo

He's spent 45 years

learning the accordion

and still isn’t all that good.



So I said to the gull

‘shit on my tits if you must,

but please don't shit in my eyes!’

It just screeched.



Isn't it more logical

and closer to the bath’s ideal 

to bathe in rain

rather than sun?


That’s the spirit

I admire:

a plant that gets right on with being

up against the wall.


About Me

My photo
Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.