Fooled Reflection


I touched the mirror

And the image of my life,


Ripples and carried fragments away

Exploding my whole reflection,

As I discovered

My mirror was made

Of water.

The flat surface

Which had looked so secure

And precise

Subsided as I rested my had

On its face,

And the fingers,

Which expected a solid,

Disappeared into the fool’s glass.

My mirror,

You’ve reflected my life

In trickery.

Picked out what you chose to show.

If there was ever behind me,

One cloud in a blue sky,

You framed my picture – To see only black.

You’ve shown me blue skies

And the sun,

Triumphantly glowing in my distance.

But you showed me no sign

Of the storm to my left.

I am the fool,

I look no further through tunnel vision.

Denied gullibility whilst totally trusting.

Deceitful mirror.

I am wrongly informed,

My image totally mis-represented.

Then I shall look no more.


To My Dad at 70



Do I begin with the nail for the picture

That you hung on the wall

With so huge a nail

That there needed to be a picture

On the other side too?

Or the boat trailer

With a wheel

That would bounce off

Into the path of oncoming traffic

With alarming frequency?

Or the shed full of canaries

With Beatle fringes

And dummy eggs

That you’d slid into their nests

To encourage them to breed?

Or the Vespa scooter

That you would rev up

In the garage,

Scare me shitless with

But never ride?

Or the music

That you played,

The LPs I stacked up

And the CDs I’ve since shared,

A victim of your taste for lyrics and melody?

Or the fibreglass canoe

That you built from scratch

And insisted on

Towing us in

Sideways across the surf?

Or the rubber dingy

You would row us out in,

Bending it almost in half

Like Desperate Dan

In an attempt to be the furthest out at sea?

Or the hobbies,

That you’ve collected everything for

Guitars, cameras, golf clubs

LFC jackets

Stowed away in the loft?

Or the love of literature

And poetry

That you keep secret,

Able to help me

With my A level and degree texts?

Or your roar of laughter

When you discovered

A double page spread in the daily rag

Of your bike ride

To Strettham Water Mill?

Or the attempts you made

At making our household

More male

With pets;

That turned out to be girls too?

Or all the times

You’ve never openly damned

Any decision

We’ve ever made

Because you only care that we’re happy?

So I should start with that,

That you love

And are loved

For the funny, affectionate, grumpy man you are

Our Dad.



The tangle inside him,

All wrangles and coaxes are futile.

It never releases

Builds up around itself,

Compromises the threads that were originally free.

Each strand, connected to discontentment,

Stretches as venom is poured

Against what was thought to be the release.

Take the scissors

Threaten to cut the veins.

The knot remains

Frayed ends, contorted tension.

Oh! To grab hold and roll it,

Twist it, double it

And make





Last Night’s Dream

I dreamt of a flood;

The swirling waters approached in slow motion.

Grabbing my children we built up sandstone bricks.

All around me was a ruined castle, not mine.

It was high but close to the river,

I paid no heed to remnants of grandeur clinging to the walls.

Wanting only to survive

My children strived to do what I asked them,

They tried building their own defences.

People begged to help me.

I shook their hands from my body,

I rejected their sandbags and dinghies.

I wasn’t trapped.

There were many ways of escape,

But I was climbing the walls reaching upwards.

Bringing the boys with me.

All around was green: sky, water and floor

Yet further away, up the hill, was blue.

I dragged the sandstone up.

Reaching for the boys’ hands to help me;

I remembered someone calmly watching the chaos.

They stood in front of me.

Pointed out all the escape routes

But never questioned my reasons for staying.

They waited for no answers.

Then slowly, smiling, lifted stones with me to the blue,

And we watched the waters engulf what was below us.

The Bad Old Days

In the bad old days –

When her phone rang whilst he was there

She wouldn’t answer it.

He never knew why for sure but

She said she was plagued by cold callers.

When the answer phone flashed she left that too

She’d listen to it later,

It was probably nothing important.

She kept letters in a bureau drawer,

It was locked.

The key was on her keyring,

With her car keys.

When the postman pushed letters through the box

They slid into a solid metal cage.

It was locked,

And the key was also on her keyring.

Her books were covered in brown paper

She didn’t want anyone on the train

Knowing what she was reading,

And her pornography was in careful piles under the bed;

Laid out in a certain pattern, hidden by old clothes-

She’d know if anyone had discovered it.

Gone are the bad old days.

Put it on silent

And change the lock code.

Trust; who needs it?

In the bad old days –

He would leap to answer her phone,

Press last number redial

And call 1471.

He’d race to collect her post in the morning,

And whilst she was out

Hold the seal over the kettle’s steam,

Then iron the envelope shut afterwards.

He’d go through her drawers and look under her bed.

Read old letters and hunt for new ones,

Find the pornography

And put it back in a certain order-

He’d know when she’d looked at it.

Gone are the bad old days.

Get the lock code

It’s all kept in one place.

Trust: who needs it?