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All of the following poems appear in my new collection Uncharted( September 2022: Graffiti Books)

The James Webb Telescope

Nearly one million miles away,

balanced by both Earth and Sun,

slowly its single sail unfurls,

feeling for the winds of time.


Coaxed by far-off trembling hands

its jigsaw mirror tilts and beds,

each fragment seamlessly aligns

in tantamount perfection;


there to float through emptiness

searching out the first faint stars,

long dead deepest dinosaurs

whose vanishing bequeathed us life –


to dig out fossils from oblivion,

exhume the What, the Where and When,

find encrusted, underneath,

some slivers of a How;


blow off the dust, record,

piece each fragment patiently,

persuasively, into a whole

that one day might hint Why.


Behind one grain of sand, held at arm’s length

towards the sky, two thousand galaxies

are suddenly obscured, each one a home

to billions of stars, planets and their moons.

I could scoop a desert with my hands

to blot the night, yet still leave looking down

more stars than sand in all the deserts left,

more galaxies than eyes to make them out.


We’re specks of dust on dust, yet with the mind

to know as much, to calculate the scale

of our disgrace and guess its likely start

and end. That’s something, at least – a candle

raised against the dark to comfort us,

a sort of prayer for what we thought we were.

                          Plague Sonnet 

                   In a Time of Pestilence


My thin long arms stretch wide, the distance friends

and strangers, cousins too, must keep away

if we’re to stay alive, so when it ends –

they’re not sure how, but think it must, one day –

we’ll all of us ( those left, that is) come close

again, much closer than before, and find

the world’s far kindlier than we supposed,

and might have seen, had doubt not made us blind.


But, for now, I’ll wrap my arms around you

and halfway round myself, take you to bed

and huddle there, however long the curfew

lasts, hope to keep at bay what lies ahead.

And if it comes, to catch us arm in arm,

let’s pray it wants us both and halves the harm.

The Spider Nursery


The barbs

which keep us out

and pen the gimmers in

are wound around with fine spun silk

like gauze,



the fence’s length,

a hundred yards or more

without the slightest gap or break

in sight;


each inch

a testing ground

for tiny new-hatched lives

ascurry here, then there, then back




for now, to play

where we would rip our skin,

become yet more entangled, rage

and swear;


their lives,

so soon consumed,

showing us that perils

are sometimes best not run against

but with.

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