Pro-Rogue Strands

AKA Rogue Strands II: The Roguening

Yep, it’s back…almost a year to the day. It’s my enormous pleasure to be able to start talking about this properly, but after the success of last year’s event, Matthew Stewart and I are finally able to put on the second of these nights.

Hopefully, we can start picking up the pace a little bit now, although that is dependent on Matthew being able to get over from Spain. However, that’s an issue for another time.

For now, I want to concentrate on what an amazing line up of poets we’ve assembled.

Feast your mince pies on this lot:

I mean, how good is this list?

How good is that list of people, even factoring me into it? That is a mix of poets to be proud of and all for the princely sum of £3 (or more if you want) that goes to help out the wonderful folks at The Trussell Trust.

Last year we raised over £300. I want to do much more than that this year, so if you can’t make it then please do feel free to donate here –

Matthew is going to share more in terms of bios and a poem from each of the readers in the next few weeks and I will talk more about them here, but for now join me in my excitement.

It’s an honour for me to read with all of these poets, I’m a fan of all of them, so I’m a big giddy about it. Let me know if you’re coming along.


  1. Priority Seat
  2. Orthopaedic Hovercraft (Credit to my wife for this one)
  3. The Screaming of Rhubarb
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Tans
  5. Burnt Parsnips


17K running – Missed a run this week due to a visiting mother

0 Poems worked on Nada, nowt, zilch. Although, half an idea about a combination of Unwinese and Nadsat.

27 days without cigarettes. May have smoked yesterday, but it’s a blip.

1 rejection email – From Primers. There’s a magnificent looking shortlist of poets though, so I can’t wait to see who gets chosen.

1 flurry of submissions – Now I have a load of poems back I can send a load out again. That’s how it works

1 introduction to Stanley Unwin I’m pleased to have introduced someone to the work of Sir Stanley…

1 review published – Jane Lovell’s This Tilting Earth

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


The Doomed City by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
Island of Towers, Clarissa Aykroyd


Not a lot, couple of Dublin Murders and a Rugby World Cup final..

Listened to:
Vetiver, Up on High, Thing of the Past
REM, Monster
Michael Kiwanuka, Kiwanuka
Anna Meredith, Fibs
808 State, Transmission Suite
and of course, The Archers…

Well, who else was it going to be? I reckon I’ve got at least 12 Rogue Strands nights before I need to find another band to use for these things

A Palm Reading Sampler

So here is a wee sampler of Palm Reading…It’s nearly ready to be published via Lulu…just a couple more things to iron out…..Please do let me know if you are interested in a copy.

This is a link to the same as below, but on Scribd if you like that sort of thing.

Scribd link for Palm Reading


Softly, softly catchee monkey, my arse.
Who’s got time for that these days, I ask you?
I was put out to grass,
but I swear I will out last you.

Like a sleeping tiger,
you’ve kept half an eye
on exactly which side
your bread’s buttered on;
and maintained your stance in the eye of the storm
and kept more than a glance
in which directions the cookie crumbled.
You’ve always asked who’s batting or bowling
and from where the thunder rumbled;
taken note of what’s good for the goose,
and seen what’s preferred by the gander.
You observed and calculated
the sweet spot of your dander,
and exactly how it’s raised.
Lord be praised!
You’ve chanced upon something.

I’ll Eat My Hat

The bed I am laying in
has been made.
It’s not a case of the cap fitting;
this being no fashion parade.
My ears are not whiskers
for the gauging of breadth and width.
If it’s stretched and tugged,
and pulled over lugs, it will fit.
In spite of the danger of tearing it,
the cap is on.
And I’m bloody well wearing it.

Milking Horses

The mother was too exhausted to help,
everyone got her to her feet.
You milked her while a bottle was found;
someone tried to rustle up a teat.

You remember the hungry tongue,
and the strength required to hold on.
The unconditional love in his eyes
made you think of your own young

and my time in the incubator;
a yellow tinge to my skin,
and the uneasiness of the first time mother
as someone else helps your offspring.

After the un-tethering of the umbilical cord,
as the vet patched up the mare,
you were witness to the first punch-drunk steps;
the still slick tail and the mother’s glare.
Each awkward hoof going sideways,
each leg wanting to see different places
in the barn, slipping on straw
as someone cracked a gag about sadness and long faces.

Love Poem

Let us not talk of the places
I would not return from.
I am already train-ward bound back
just to hold you,
to smooth over hair and try to hold back tears
like Canute’s daughter.
There is no ocean I would not cross
by hand and foot, or by boat to be here.
No burning coal I would not dance over,
or map wide enough to prevent
feeling you push me away
and hear you say
that you are fine.

Kizelbel, September 2004

For R.

Last night was all too perfect.
The only noise was the local crickets’
nightly jam session in the hills.
All conversation was of insect music,
as one lone virtuoso near our balcony
sang his own exquisite love songs.

The midges massed to our left
like a Luftwaffe wave;
ready to dive-bomb us back inside.
Moths were taking off and landing
like burning paper scraps
against a bonfire sun.

Figs fell from the trees
at exactly the same time as the Muezzin’s siren call began,
punctuated by the click of a microphone.
Modern life beat a path inland
as you beat me at backgammon.

A Few Words about Caution

Don’t enter the coop with a calculator
or abacus
until you are certain
you hear the tapping of beak on albumen.

Knife Throwers’ Assistant

I hand myself to him on a plate
twice a day, night after night.
I am not one for tempting fate;
luck gets taken for no ride, or a fool.
is a steadfast, rock-solid rule.

Don’t talk to me of faith.
I have to remember the knives are thrown around me
and never at or against.
I have grown to see this:
His aim is his word, and it is true.
I freely take part in this tryst.

Trust being the currency here,
we spend it wisely.
We don’t talk after work or come near.
I need no holds over him, or he over me.
For obvious reason we keep the other
precisely where we want them to be.

Arms at five past and five to,
feet at twenty five to and past;
then a whoosh as the blade is passing through:
Six in as many seconds as balloons burst.
Even if he were to hit me
the show must always come first.

When I started people came here
to be entertained, or cheaply thrilled
It’s getting harder to keep the audiences’ attention;
sometimes I suspect blood needs to be spilled.

With thanks to


In here no one hears trees falling, or do they?
I have listened and lost interest and the will;
being too caught up in the noises of blood in my ears
and the ferrety noises of insects and animals.

I no-longer sweat,
or can no-longer be sure it is me.
It could be moisture, or
what’s left of my clothes transforming the heat.

I have learnt to be comfortable pissing myself,
like a deep sea diver.
It’s all I can feel now,
reminds me I am still alive.

Insects pass by to inspect
what I suspect will become theirs.
It is not the casual rabbit
or idling hare that I fear.

I had always doubted the industry of ants,
of stag beetles or the point of centipedes.
I am in no doubt.
Now I believe.

How did I get here?
You may well ask.

Family Secrets

It was Him who breezed through here;
opened a hospital not long after opening hours,
posing for pictures, signings and souvenirs.
He shook more than hands it would seem;
or so they say, by the looks of things
and from what I have seen.

Each trip home from the unaffordable college
would yield new information,
some new piece of knowledge.
I was done with working out fact or fiction;
the beans needed to be spilt.
I wanted the origins of my cut glass diction.

Looks from people in corners of locals and from behind
tiny shop counters began to add up,
whispers and close encounters of the sir kind
put the courage to my convictions.
You were strangely quieter, anthems were never sung.
Fault lines appeared through the friction.

News travels, and I intend to follow it.
Take it from me, mark my every word,
the bait has been dangled; I will not swallow it.
This has been bungled, soft-soaped, mis-handled.
Seen and not heard, is all I was expected to do.
I am up off of my knees now; think of the scandal.


They call me the “Mynah Bird”.
It’s a little trick of mine,
I will become a tiny bit of you when we talk;
your inflections slip to me over time.

In a heart pulse, or a blink of an eye
my accent changes on a sixpence.
It’s not an echo, or Doppler Effect.
I am no siren, though I draw you in close.

You will feel nothing when everything you have
becomes my weapon of choice.
All I have to work with is pulled
from your shows and tells; your very own voice.

We’re kith and kin now,
cut from a cloth and of the same kidney.
You’ve sold yourself short,
now what have you left to give me?