Sunday 16 June 2024


In order of composition, newest at the top. 

Photographs from Ashurst, New Forest unless indicated otherwise.


Why are lemons

kept in nets

but never apples?

Apples are just too damn hard to catch.


I can’t believe that they believe

that a barrier like that

will keep the Big Man in his place

or prevent his theft.


(Paddington, London: an as-yet-unlaunched commission by Ugo Rondinone, I do believe)


Not a perfect

pair of pears,

but equi-nestled company enough -

effectively, a conference.


(The Conference Pear, an autumn cultivar of the European pear Pyrus communis was developed in Britain by Thomas Francis Rivers,  the name deriving from it claiming first prize at the National British Pear Conference in 1885)


‘Sorry sir,

but we rarely see

shoes so ordinary:

we're not repairing them.’


(Paddington, London)


That's very generous

given that I never went in.

Maybe that's why

they went under.



This may not be the usual way

to hang a fence,

but doesn’t everybody need

a little horizontal in their lives?


Why worry overmuch?

Three quarters of people

won’t get shingles

until they are dead…


How many petals

does a Dog Rose have?

That depends –

not so much on botany, as wind.

Imagine the interview

‘… and what would you bring

to the role of Programme Developer

here at St Martin’s Theatre?’

(Seven Dials, London: St. Martin’s Theatre has been home to Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, the longest continuous running show in the world, since March 1974. Prior to that it was at Ambassadors Theatre 1952 to 1974. The only interruptions in its run have been two days while it moved theatres and 14 months for the Covid pandemic.)


Nobody wants to live in phlegm city

but we all have to start

from where we are, then try to move on

to where we’d sooner be.

(I couldn’t get a decent image of my mucus, so here more tastefully are four people trying to get rid of the it – or, more likely, actors pretending to be people trying to get rid of it)

If the size of leaf fragments

indicates the volume of feet,

then it’s plain

that this is London.

(There are estimated to be 100,000 plane trees on the streets of Greater London, accounting for some 10% of the total arboreal population – but they tend to be in many of the most prominent places)


The Barbican’s concrete

seems to be on fire 

with damp. I guess that's more resistant  

than even the right sort of cladding.

(Barbican, London)


I appreciate

the handle.

All all the same,

I can't quite lift this column.


(Elephant & Castle, London)


What crop circles are

in rural myth,

the sprayed drain is in suburbia -

assuming it’s for real.


If I were a bird on a wire

I wouldn't be nervous about edging higher.

True, I’m no flyer,

but that isn't me on the wire.


The big rocks

are in charge round here.

They don't wait for the pebbles to invite them,

they just apply their weight.

(Arnhem, Netherlands)

I'm not sure I believe

in Cod:

it's just pollock mis-described

to hide the overfishing.


When the model folds into the page

I'm returned to the 1970’s joke

regarding a young man’s surprise

that women didn’t have staples.

(The book is 'I am' by Erwin Olaf, as seen in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Playboy centrefolds were stapled, back in the day)


Only on pond pondering

did I twig that yonder ripply rocks 

were in fact  

some sort of ceramic habitat for plants.


(Oosterpark, Amsterdam)



Summer is near

and by way of a seasonal forecast,

the building's decor

falls from the trees.

(Montesorri School, Amsterdam)


Why do herons

never position themselves in front of reflections?

If I had lines of comparable purity

I guess I'd do the same.

(Oosterpark, Amsterdam)


The window orchid’s

combination of in and out,

direct and reflected, natural and constructed

makes other orchids look a little simple.





If you're going to slice the sky

I recommend an irregular quadrilateral:

whether eponymous blue or scudded, 

I leave to your taste.

(Railway Station, Southampton) 


I have discovered

that super-hoop earrings

make women beautiful.

Could this be my route to a fortune?


‘Isn’t it time’

I asked old Mrs Bench,

‘to admit your late husband is no longer a bench,

and get back into to being one yourself?’


(Photograph taken in Knighton, Wales by Steph Carey-Kent)


It can’t be much

of a boost to the environment

to find that cans of Boost 

are falling fast as leaves.

(Kings Cross, London)


It looks as if Victoria

has had a lot of rain...

The floods have washed down

well past Brixton.

(Kings Cross Underground, London)



Oh dear!

Am I showing that the wrong way up?

I need to be better 

at getting down to detail.


(Baker Street, London)

It isn't rush hour

but all the same this seems

a little greedy. Shouldn’t sleep

be kept to the Circle Line?

(Bakerloo line, London - the Circle Line is the traditional one for  endless journeying, given it doesn't have end stations)


I think we can call this modern pavement

'post-post', even though its deconstruction

doesn’t carry the weight of theory

the post-post-modern leads one to expect.


(pavement with post removed, Marylebone, London)


This is the sort of city

in which it's assumed that the average bed buyer

knows their Pepys. I wonder if they offer

the best of a bad bargain…


(Oxford - Samuel Pepys' Dairy contains the first known use of the phrase 'the best of a bad bargain')


Pizza – pasta 

pizza – pasta

constitutes the full Italian Cycle - 

we’re not even halfway through.



This is Radio Wok FM

challenging the limits

of hot vibes and stir-fry

on the way down to the dump.

Are these just plantains?

No more than my wife is just a woman:

they’re our very own plantains

from our very own patch of wild garden.



I wonder who discarded this 

and whether in was in carelessness,

or irony or... 

what would be the protest being made?


I suppose the message is

they're all at sea here, expect a long wait -

cunningly making me extra pleased

when they see me right on time. 

(Royal South Hants and Southampton Hospital)


If you leave it

to appearances - 

even after winter, even though it must be so -

leaves don't seem the essence of these trees.


(Pimlico, London)


Since when did roads

become so colourful?

Perhaps it’s time

to restrict the cars to back or white.

(Pimlico, London)

If Elton had sung of Marilyn

that it seemed to him she lived her life

'like a rockrose in the wind',

would he still have had a hit?


(Chichester: this fluttering Cistus x aguilarii 'Maculatus' – or Spotted white rockrose – put me in mind of the famous scene from 1954 film of ‘The Seven Year Itch’ (1954) in which Marilyn Monroe laughs as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, and hence of Elton John’s 1973 song about her, ‘Candle in the Wind’)

‘Water logic’?

Sounds sophisticated...

Actually, it's just an awkwardly high and pointlessly elaborate 

table on which to put the jugs of water.


(Conquest Hospital, St Leonards)


A large portion

of peace, please,

preferably worldwide -

and could I have that with chips?

(World Peace Shop, Bexhill)


Let us not get carried away

Plenty of shops have closed their doors,

many more important than a picture framer –

but that's just my perspective.




This isn't abstract art

says the gallery text, but it is attempting

‘to represent the unrepresentable’,

which looks like having the same result…

(Manuel Mathieu: 'The End of Figuration' at the De La Warr PAvilion, Bexhill) 


It's a shame

the wall has a broken its necklace,

though it still exudes

a scattered glamour.





This is the most

commendably restrained

‘No Parking’ notice I can recall.

Several cars are parked in front of it.


(Sign almost fully overpainted, St Leonards)

The way the world is

I'd expect to find this toilet

dirty and malfunctional,

but I'm not playing along. 

(Hackney, London)

When the sun rose

in the daisies

I knew the day was going

to be good. 

(St Leonards)


These days, I guess

the video’s sound is silence –

and not because

there’s been a return to silent movies.


(St Leonards)



is not the same as failure:

the practice of accommodation

is a large part of success.


(St Leonards)



There’s plenty in the world

one would rather didn’t exist

I’m certainly keen that the lump on my arm

should become an ex-cyst.

(12 May 2024)

Either my gown

is mortally wounded,

or else I can't deny the charge 

of making it rather bloody.

(Southampton General Hospital, just after having the cyst in my arm excised and drained - ie surgically lanced - on 14 May. A surprisingly full tray of blood and puss resulted, plus overspill)

‘This is Lancing’

says the announcer.

I can’t help feeling ‘That was lancing’

would have been more to the point.

(Lancing Railway Station, 15 May)

This is all the existence 

an ex-cyst can aspire to. 

I can't see why it bothers:

perhaps it won't, for long.

(St Leonards, 17 May)


Mind you don't slip 

on the sign that's enacting 

exactly the fate

that it warns you against.


(Southampton General Hospital)


You can't trust buttercups

to reveal affection:

they’ll always claim you’re loved, five petals on.

Better to take your chances with a daisy.


(Minstead. ‘He loves me, he loves me not’ / ‘She loves me, she loves me not’ is a game in which a person alternately speaks the phrases  while picking one petal off a flower - usually a daisy - for each phrase. The phrase they speak on picking off the last petal supposedly represents the truth between the object of their affection loving them or not.)



A ball of hedge

makes little sense. It's hard to kick it

anywhere, let alone as far as the docks,

to a big enough structure to act as a goal.

(The docks begin just four miles from Ashurst, but still… )


The sun's own rays

cause the sun's zone.

But the sun is not a zone of itself:

 it's just the sun.



I’ve heard the jokes

about gnome sweet gnome

and I still find gnomes

more crass than sweet.



See how the dandelion

wears the plan

for its own eternity

as if it were a skirt.

You could map every visible star

onto this constellation of daisies,

the only question being

which daisies to omit.



Beware of crocodiles

next time you’re looking

to snap up a bargain

on the High Street…



Here's where the barber sign

asks the Post Office Tower

‘what makes you think

it’s such a big deal to revolve?’ 

(Fitzrovia, London)


This is how

you mark the place of a market stand.

It makes sense to patrol your claim

with a pigeon.


(Chapel Street Market, Islington, London)


Where buttercups

are yellow, straight, because they love the sun,

bluebells are a shade of blue 

because they love the shade.


Edward Square may seem a little dull

to those who've crossed swords with Pete Point,

or traced the curves of Lucy Round.

Yet worthiness is worthy, after all. 


(Edward Square, Barnsbury – one of London’s first public gardens when opened to all in 1888. Who, by the way, put the word into swords?)


See how gently he sands the paintwork down

as if it were the tooth

of one of the patients who've defected

from Rough Work Dental down the road. 




The Germans love their big blue pipes

I reckon that’s because it is

the love of big blue pipes itself

that all those big blue pipes pump round.




The case for having hair of grass

is clear enough - winter is a doddle.

How about a lawn of hair?

No reasons come to mind…


(Cornelia Schleime: ‘Wenn der Ostwind weht’ (When the East Wind Blows),  2016  -  Acrylic, asphalt varnish and shellac on canvas,  220 × 360 cm at Galerie Judin, Berlin)


The feathered nettle

is all about lure and contrast.

Can I feel the former,

Without edging into the latter?




That moment when

you notice that you’re sinking

then realise that the lifebuoy is stuck between the rails

and, anyway, is made of bronze…

(Berlin – that’s Norbert Radermache’s ‘The Ring’, 1985, on Potsdamer Brücke)


This looks like pool that I can play…

too rough for skill to count for much,

and no pockets, besides, to benefit those

who know how to hold a cue.





A rose is a rose is

some sort of monstrosity

in what appears to be cement.

Its sweetness must be its scent.




I can't see the photographer 

but can tell that the pose

is not for me.  

Am I entitled to take my own picture?



Have I discovered a new form

of discrimination? Or should I ask

‘Habe ich eine neue Form

der Diskriminierung entdeckt?’


(Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)


Don a green hat

from a green situation

to banish the blues

and keep your thoughts spring-fresh.



What is slightly out of kilter?

The construction

of the U-Bahn system

or how I line up my phone?

(U-Bahnhof Konstanzer Straße, Berlin)


The sun is out

The bath’s in place.

The Germans love to be naked.

What can explain their failure to wash here?




What an achievement

I don't think it is

to be the first bus that I see in Berlin

when it’s not even one that I wanted to catch.





What would you sooner suspend?

The laws of gravity

or that lot,

over your head? 


(Clapham Junction, London)

Tables dancing?

It doesn't seem likely 

even at the peak of Soho's 

reputation for the disreputable.


(Soho, London)


You know that summer is coming

when the blossom falls from the wall

leaving the bulk of it

greyer than before.


(Deptford, London)



Do Not Disturb!

For I am getting 


to unfurl...


(lily, Camberwell, London)

They’re thoughtful round here

cutting a section

out of the cover-board

in case you want to see the wall.

(Deptford, London)

This is the place

to bring a clapped-out bike

if you can’t be bothered

to take it down the tip.


(Mayfair, London)


How much simpler it would be

to remove any bicycles

chained to the railings

were they not chained to the railings!


(Bloomsbury, London - less favourable than Mayfair, it seems, if you want the bike removed)


That's enough

of the mottling drizzle, drip and mist –

now's the time

for the bolder strikes of proper rain.

(Bermondsey, London) 

One would be an incident

Two is a tendency.

Three would amount to

a suspiciously unlikely trend.


(straws in Holborn. London)


The Baselitz bike is an awkward ride

It isn’t so much the free-spinning wheels

Getting you nowhere

As the scraping of the head as you try.


(Bloomsbury, London - Georg Baselitz is known for paintings that appear the wrong way up)


What you want

is buffers worth hitting –

not so much physically as metaphorically.

The railways pull the trick off all the time.


(Waterloo Station, London)


The tipping point for ferns

is rather literal:

when the tips

unfurl to a point.


(Furzey Gardens, Minstead)


A Zalean Colour Chart

may not have room for every hue

but for garden beauty purposes

it will do.


(Azaleas in Furzey Gardens, Minstead)


I can't believe

that easel was used to paint the wall -

but if it was,

that was quite some canvas it supported!


(Shoreditch, London)


How do you sleep 

on a train? 

With quite a lot of snuffle noise,

that I have spared you here.


(Between Winchester and Woking)


If you can see the world

in a grain of sand,

why not the cosmos

in the cracking of a pane?


(St James’s, London)


You never know…

If you sleep outside Pret,

you may wake up to breakfast

or, more likely, brunch…


(Oxford Circus, London)


I like the moment

when speckles of rain

complement or cover or even seem to merge

with speckles on the stone.




I’ve been cut back

in what I'd call my prime

were it not so easy

to end it.




Does this really

throw light

on the mechanics of a street lamp?

I’m baffled by the spring…


(Charing Cross, London)


The sign of the cross

is such a barrier here!

Do they want to stop the unconverted

climbing up to ecstasy?


(St Anne’s Church, Soho, London)

Given the exposure to the elements

it’s hard to be surprised

that almost every hairdresser

has given up on grass


(Hillier’s Arboretum, Hampshire)


This much tape 

suggests an invisible reason -

if only that someone's keen that we

should wonder what that is.


(Canada Water, London)


Living in a parallel world

would suit me fine

if I just knew 

whether I was in the real one.


(Finchley Road, London)


Kiss the hippo

massage the rhino

kick the kanga 

tickle the tiger…


(Covent Garden, London. It sounds dangerous, but according to the chain’s founder, Joshua Tarlo, the name 'Kiss the Hippo Coffee' is merely ‘a playful expression of the company's respect for nature’ – it was the first coffee company in the industry to be certified as a carbon negative.)


I’m not convinced

that this is a man looking out of the window -

but I concede

he’s something of a star.


(Mayfair, London)


Daisies, dandelions, primroses, buttercups…

All I'm saying is:

I've never seen a cowslip

bloom along this way.


You can't expect these trees to swim

Even if they did have lessons,

it would take a million years of evolution

to give them any chance.



Is that all philosophy tells us?

That there's really no chance

of reeling in seeming

as far as the really real real?

(The image - at least on 5 April 2024, was the first to come up from a Google image search for 'reeling in seeming')  

Spring brings a surfeit

of helio-yellows.

Which grabs the glory?

Pick your fix… 



Blowsy is

as blowsy does

but the essence of blowsy

must be what it was.


(You can describe lush, overblown flowers that are a bit past their peak bloom as ‘blowsy’)


I guess I wouldn’t mind

too much

were it full of my shit –

but I wouldn’t like anyone else’s.


(Deptford, London)


The urban cow is glossy pink 

and either has no lust for grass, 

or else has learned to channel it

into cinnamon buns and lattes.


(Farringdon, London)


Who doesn’t favour natural light?

Well, this must be as natural,

albeit short of lumen-power,

as artificial light can get.


(Deptford, London)



Has a feather escaped

from a pillow in disguise,

or is it here

by sleep-tickling happenstance?


(Farringdon, London)



12 across

Four letters that

‘will smell as sweet

if you get this answer wrong’.


(Train, Basingstoke)


You never know

when there might be two fires

and only one alarm –

and then where would we be?


(Mayfair, London)

Eat pizza and save the world

Walk backwards in red shoes and save the world. 

Write poems about photographs and save the world.

Stop the sun exploding and save the world...

(West Brompton, London)


The simple allure of complexity

is evident here:

the complex allure of simplicity

may be harder to pin down.

(Piccadilly, London)


Why would you dump ice down a drain?

Let us say to protest global warning…

Either that, or there’s a lot of whisky

being readied for the rocks down below.


(St James’s, London)

Last year the primroses

rose rather modestly -

primly, even.

Now they’re on the rise.


Ah, the eternal question

of how to define the temporary!

This machine’s rejected notes for over five years,

but that’s less than a blip in the universe’s timespan. 

Let us assume them

mother and daughter:

that hereditary pink hair

seems to fade a little over time.


I like

a good yard sale.

How much

if I take the lot?


All I can say is

if Boris tried to seduce me,

I’m pretty sure

I wouldn’t fuck him.



Portsmouth is looking at me

eyelash-branches in its eye.

I'm not sure I want to look

at Portsmouth.


What is the effect of causes?

To make matters other

than they would have been.

But what is the cause of effects?


 It was a squeeze

to get through, we won't deny it,

but you can't tell us where we’ll fit in,

nor what we're meant to do.



Why did the couple next to me

spend the whole hour down to Portsmouth

wordless, bookless – phoneless, even

in favour of staring at places like this?



Why must magnolia move

just as one is snapping it?

It looks too late

to be part of the process of blooming.




‘How many greats’

asks the clock of the sun,

‘do I need, to get back to 

you being my parent?’


Its job

is to illumine, and yet it reflects.

But reflection

can throw light on matters, too.

(Whitechapel, London) 

Halfway up

is surely better than halfway down,

even conceding

that they’re the same place.

(Edgeware, London)



The law of diminishing rocks

States that size is proportional to distance.

I’d be tempted to increase the size by corresponding increments

were it not for the view from the other end.

(Whitechapel, London) 

Death’s on its way

I know it you know it

I just hope I don't look

this scared or surprised.


Dead flowers

may seem a bad omen,

but when there are seven

the summer is going to be good.

I like the way a celandine 

spreads. No holding back,

no fear of looking daft if the sun stays in -

even though it probably will.

I've never got off the train

at Millbrook.

Nor it is obvious

why I should...


It makes little sense

that something so common as daffodils

can retain the power to enchant.

Yet there they are.


I like this picture

enough to include it,

even though

I have no words.



If walls have feelings

the same as some rocks,

this one must be suffering

quite a bit of pain.



Would you want to live in a house

that backs onto death quite as directly as these?

Even if it made your last journey

that little bit quicker?



Why do cars have ears?

To help,

of course,

their drivers to see. 



in the pebble kingdom,

single parent families 

are on the rise.





On Broadstairs Beach 

I can connect nothing 

to Eliot.

I need to get to Margate, fast.


(Broadstairs. In 1921 TS Eliot, recuperating from a nervous breakdown, had sat in a shelter on Margate’s seafront while writing Part III of The Waste Land.‘On Margate Sands / I can connect / Nothing with nothing. / The broken fingernails of dirty hands. / My people humble people who expect / Nothing.’)


Here everyone is keen to please

They serve with smiles,

stop to let us cross the road,

accommodate guests who can’t spell.


(Broadstairs: photo of sign spotted by Steph)

Alder was felled

Berry had no time to ripen; Pollard 

was cut back; White went into the dark.

Everyone was grateful to them.




They like their puns in Thanet

‘Max Headroom’ was already one,

so ‘Matt's Headroom’ is a pun

as squared as the back of a haircut.




‘You won't be planting that in me

unless you use a

very, very powerful

anaes…. ‘




How long was it? 

Probably not as long as it seemed.

The air was tossing, turning, shifting,

never could quite settle in its bag.





Follow the line past the bin

and just beyond infinity

you'll find him cleaning windows 

in a never-ending cycle…




What may seem

a difficult project

is seamlessly achieved here:

the gridding of sand.




I guess I shouldn’t be surprised

that the ‘Rose in June’ is closed in March

Business must be a struggle 

on just one month a year 




We’re proud to live here

up to a point: a point 

that was tested in 2011 and tipped in ‘22.

Can we move to Princess Anne?  


(Broadstairs: there is a ‘Princess Anne Road’ nearby. Accusations about sexual abuse by the already-less-than-popular Prince Andrew, Duke of York, arose in 2011, in the context of his association with the convicted sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein. In 2022 he made a multi-million pound settlement to prevent the matter reaching court. That was widely seen as a tacit admission of guilt, and the royal family obliged Andrew to withdraw from public life.)


This will be

the national hub

when the Barbie Revolution 

skateboards into town. 




Do I detect

a certain determination

to stop anybody getting under

Westover Road?




This is a seat

worth sitting on:

I may not even need

to need the loo.




Two up two down

in Cliftonville:

they don't make wildernesses

the way they used to.




Spoiler alert

The winner is revealed,

and he doesn't look surprised…

or even happy.


(New Milton)


I expect 

to find things pretty disgusting, 

that being the state of the country these days. 

Does that mean I should mess the place up?

(Café, New Milton)


This is the shape

of the boundary

between 40 and 100 % gravel -

with gravel roughly equal on either side.


(New Milton. The typical concrete mix is made up of roughly 10% cement, 20% air and water, 30% sand, and 40% gravel)


That must have been

one hell of a closing party,

a night on which the usual old customs

seemed so cool they might have been new.


(the former Old's Cool Occasions and Old's Cool Customs, New Milton)

Ignoring the rain

I combed the streets 

for items of interest - 

and all I found was this.

 (New Milton)

Why is it called

Old Milton?

You don't say Old York or Old Amsterdam. 

Let the usurpers carry the burden of distinction!


(Old Milton)


I was puzzled for a moment 

Why would the Evening Standard

 list the contents of The Independent?

Then I realised my mistake – or theirs...


(Northern Line, London)

The problem is

if you’ve laid down

you won’t be able to reach

the top of the box to open it.



should be a word

for an intelligent person.

Who wouldn’t want to be a stute?


(If you put ‘intelligent person’ into an online image search, the first page is dominated by Einstein)


Are Sotheby’s moving

with the trans times?

I guess not, that’s probably an old-fashioned jacket,

not a short skirt.


(Sotheby’s, Mayfair, London)


This looks like

a dangerously drippy place to stand.

But what is life

if you never take a risk?


(Waterloo, London)

I didn't know that Arb

had been canonized:

who'd have thought that making coffee

could get you so far?


(Warren Street, London. Kerning is the typographical process of adjusting the spacing between characters. Sometimes there are restrictions.)  


What I like

about the 440 page

‘Fish Hooks of the Pacific Islands’

is that it's Volume Two.


(Thomas Heneage booksshop, Piccadilly, London)


Here is the puddle zone

well on the way –

stop right now, rain! –

to becoming a flood.

Hose-woman bows

her nozzle head:

I’m flattered,

and slightly surprised.


(Burgh House, Hampstead, London)


‘Where’, I'm inclined to ask grass

‘is your backbone?’

And what kind of excuse is

'not needing one’?


(Windy riverside, Greenwich, London)

The already-pleasure 

of parking for free 

is nudged a touch higher

by knowing that there used to be a charge.

(Lymington New Forest Hospital)


Rampant kingdomism

continues to deny plantae

the decent depth of burial

routinely afforded animalia.


(Hiller’s Arboretum, Hampshire: who can doubt the bias in how we treat the five kingdoms, with Animalia, Plantae and Fungi respected in that order, followed by Monera and Protista)


It’s one thing

to grow up as the odd one out,

another to be odd

without the prospect of change.


(Public convenience, Lymington)


This strikes me as a pipe worth smoking

Until the chance arises

I shall stick with abnegation:

even vapes have yet to tempt me.


(Farringdon, London)



This is how you walk the path

Ignore the night.

Follow the instructions.

Reach the gated distance and you're done.

The ivy’s flowered

brighter and sooner, and faded faster,

than I have ever seen before -

and I’ve known sixty springs…

I have my doubts

Is scrubbing away the yellow line

really sufficient

to free up your parking?

(Paddington, London)


It's a long-established trick

Dash in, take the credit,

turn round sharp

and walk straight out.

 (Walpole Park, Ealing, London)

The longest snake I've ever seen

 is writhing here.

You need to be careful:

the head could be anywhere.

(Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing, London)


It’s hard to say

if the hat is flattering

or simply a practical means

of shutting out the world of delay.

(Southampton-London train: this passenger appeared dozily unfazed by our running 50 minutes late)


People prefer to go

over a bridge.

Water is happy enough

going under.

It's easier to catch rain

in a bucket then in a photo:

it needs to be pretty-much bucketing down

to make enough pictorial impression.




Are we paying for holes?

Or is that rendered immaterial

by how much space is always present

at the subatomic level?


(Sourdough bread is certainly prone to gaps. That said, nearly everything is emptiness: if you take account of the space between the electrons of an atom, 99.9999999% of us – or bread – is space)


X marks the spots

though it’s fair to point out

that everywhere else

is also recording the rain.


(Peckham, London)


Hang on a second!

That may be

a bit too slow. 

Moments also have their limits.


(Closed coffee shop enjoining us to slow down - Peckham, London)


Don't fuss!

Just get your head down.

What does gratitude

cost you, after all?


(Deptford, London)



is only part of a word

from which little can be deduced

about what came next and


(Peckham, London)


This is how

the solar system looks from Peckham:

the substance of the sun

having been eaten.


(Peckham, London)


Here you might buy

your vibrato or masturbat,

yr lub, yr sxy unds.

But I wdn’t trust their condos.



If plastic bottles were plastic flowers

and plastic flowers were allowed by the rules

this wouldn’t get far, nevertheless,

in a gardening competition.



Is it the same transitional thing?

From larva to flight mode,

from feudal to capital 

from dry to wet?

(Pavement as rain begins, Bermondsey, London)


‘At the moment

ATMs are useless, sorry,

and the more I spend, the less I have.

Ask tomorrow, maybe I'll get paid.’


(Automated Teller Machine, Clerkenwell, London. Not to mention the heater...)



Life isn't simple

You can't expect

an automatic fit:

this is as close as you’re likely to get.


(Mayfair, London)


Why should I trust that man at all?

For all I know 

he's fallen rather gravely ill

since they put the advert up.


(Kensington, London: David Gady is considered perhaps the leading male fashion ‘supermodel’, though I admit I hadn’t heard of him before I saw him stating in this advert how he's 'always trusted Wellman')


The splashbird

leaves a distinctive track -

consistent with dragging its well-webbed feet,

reluctant to accept that they’re not in water.


(Mayfair, London)




This may not be shit creek

this may not quite be a paddle,

but there may be a comparable problem

unless it has been cast aside by a one-legged cyclist.


(Kensington, London)



This is an unfiltered view

of Exhibition Road:

you can't call a phone box up-to-date technology

in the context of an edit.


(Kensington, London)

The Dutch

seem to favour stickerfiti:

spraycans are going

a little too far…


 You won’t find a world

without grit.

The academic question being 

Whether you would want one…




I worry

that my worry lines

have started to outweigh my smile –

and then I worry that that will make them worse.




You can tell the time

from the groundlights here – 

or you could,

were any of them set correctly. 




The fundamental error here -

climbing on the outside of the building –

made worse by the fact that

there are only four proper footholds.


 (Rotterdam: work by Daan Botlek – ‘Make it Happen’, 2017)

How did this work?

Why would you lay a pavement

that doesn't fit? Or build a wall  

that squashes the pavement up?




There comes a point

when the only purpose of light bulbs

seems to be to light up themselves.

That's when you turn them off. 


(Den Haag Centraal Train Station)

Now that I'm old

I see the new as nothing more

than age in the waiting room.

It won't be all that long.




I don’t want to seem ungrateful

but who needs eight pillows,

especially when they’re all too fat?

Maybe I do want to seem ungrateful…


(Bilderberg Parkhotel, Rotterdam)


Can it really be

that the paper,

not the act

is the focus of attention here?

(Stedelijk Museum Schiedam)


Has this street got above itsel?

What justified the elevation

from brick-plain Scots

to the fluted  fantoosheries of Ancient Greece?


(Euston, London: 'Drummond' is a habitational name from several Scots towns. ‘Itsel’ and ‘fantoosherie’ (flashiness / pretentiousness) are Scots words. ‘Doric’ is ‘the ancient Greek dialect of the Dorians’ as well as ‘relating to or denoting a classical order of architecture characterized by a sturdy fluted column and a thick square abacus resting on a rounded moulding’)


Help me please!

My walls are crumbling, the roof is overloaded,

I fear the log fire is out of control -

and I have no funds to put disaster right!


(Mayfair, London)


We may have found our winner

in the contest for maximum drippage.

I just hope

no message was intended.


(Victoria, London)

The Box Bird’s nests

appear in April –

sometimes early, sometimes late,

I’ve often wondered why…


(Since Easter happens on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon (i.e. the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring), it can fall on any date between March 22 and April 25)



Christmas is over

The only presents to be given now

are trees to the streets

who may not even want them.

(London / Brussels, late January 2024) 



It's all very well

to say they're out of date round here,

but how many current Belgian bands

get to play in London, after all?

(Brussels, 2024: both The Human League and UB40 had their hits in the early 1980's)

The birds of Brussels

just about scrape by,

dodging the rubbish to nest in plant pots.

It’s surprising they grow to such sizes.

(Vanderkindere, Brussels) 

The Belgians

love their dogs

but do the dogs

love Belgium?


Blue people to the left

Red people to the right.


carry right on.

(Brussels - the city of Magritte - is strongly associated with the convention-defying surrealist movement) 


Call yourself

a tree,

you twig-weak failure to take up space?

At least your father could stand up for himself.



of leaving your car boot open:

who knows who’ll steal a photo

or even a bottle of water…


Love can be

as delicate as a feather.

Love can be

as base as a drain.


Behind the eyes

behind the windows

behind the trees…



I don't see windows

I see lives made visible

by the lack of visibility

that means they need extra light.



The concrete fence

that pretended to be wood

didn’t even think about how hard it would be

for a wooden fence to pretend to be concrete. 


That’s quite a contraption!

I’m hoping

to be strobed to sleep

but it doesn’t quite happen.


(Belgrove Hotel, London)

People think she's tardy

but it's merely that her units need converting:

‘in a second’ is a minute, ‘a minute’ is five,

‘ten minutes’ is half an hour, and so on.


(Actually, she is Tardy – golfer Bailey Tardy, presumably the buck of jokes if she is late. I meant to post this earlier.)


This looks too vulnerable

to be out in public - 

doesn't the pinkness

belong on the inside?


(Bethnal Green, London)



The Imposter Syndrome 

can rear its head anywhere.

But I say: 

let's make  difference our friend.


(Cambridge Heath. London)



It’s not itself the biggest news

but I went in here to buy a paper,

believing logic on my side -

and found they didn't sell them.

(Bishopsgate, London)


Don't get me wrong   

Trees have their merits

but lamp posts, they light up the world

and know the right way to behave around pavements.


(Cambridge Heath, London)

 I love the practicality!

The daily puzzling

over which foot is which

made so much easier!


(Whitechapel Underground Station, London)

I’m touched

by how tenderly –

even though down to a less-than-stump slice -

the big tree cradles its diminutive friend.


(Clissold Park, London)

It was a matter of honour 

to abandon this book 

in public disgrace. 

I swear I didn’t read a single word.


(Manor House, London)


At least it's dark 

But how would you like 

to have your inners exposed 

to any passing fetishist of circuits? 

(Manor House, London)



‘Bollocks to bullocks’

reads the  360°

feedback from their neighbours,

understandably provoked by the noise and smell.


(Fitzrovia, London)


The winter sun

is low enough to make me wonder:

is it really

93 million miles up? 

(Redbridge, Southampton)



I remember 

when it would have mattered 

that a telephone box had been smashed up

and you couldn't call in to report it.


(Manor House, London)


This isn’t the sort of handbag

that’s worth more than its contents.

What I’d take for a grin

becomes a grimace.

(Manor House, London)


The X’s

act as indicators,

just in case you fail to spot

that the pavement’s been repaired. 

(Mayfair, London)



Where to walk?  

Unable to reach the ceiling,

I pondered the balance required for the handrail.

Then I saw the footmarks and all was clear.

(South Kensington Tube Station, London)

Want to stack a tower block

on a van

on a car?

I suggest you cheat.


(Redbridge, Southampton)


Here is normality

reflecting normality to such an extent

that I’m starting to think

it's abnormal.




Having complained about getting no bin bags

I was almost disappointed, when they arrived,

to find that all our neighbours

had been given some too.


(I say ‘almost’, because - of course – the good fortune of others should not diminish our own. Consider, for example, the parable of Jesus and the vineyard workers… Matthew 20: 1–16)


I didn't expect

to be brought the wrong order

and maybe I wasn't

but I did have the thought.


(Trusty Servant Inn, Minstead)

Christmas in the countryside

appears pretty gloomy:

look how down in the tinsel mouth

this Landrover seems to be!


This curtain of light

is a trick of just that. 

And makes it no easier

To peek through and in...


(Mayfair, London)


Barrier post 

is not a bad job

apart from the meaningless waiting around

for the meaningful waiting around to begin.

(Saatchi Gallery, London)


Even if

you wrap yourself against the world

and stand as still as possible,

time will not stop passing.

(Sloane Square, London)


Pickpockets swear by them

Nimble fingers multiplied

beyond the dreams of even

the most mephistophelian pianist.

(Saatchi Gallery, London)


Were I not only naked

but suffering from excess shine

and a really bad case of Slice’s Disease

I'd be sweating, too.

(Statue, South Bank Centre, London - Klaus Weber: 'Peacock')


This is no Christmas tree!

We must not give the clandar


over the species…

(Waterloo, London)



What's the difference

between a fuck and a shag?

A shag is rather like a cormorant,

whereas a fuck is rather like a shag.


(that’s a shag on the left, a cormorant on the right. What led me to this? I'm sorry, I haven't a clue.)

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.