Shoes stack up like promises in the closet.

I wonder how some of these ever fit me.

Must be a time to cast away stones:

And so that’s how I came to be here,

Bag of old rag and me by the street corner

Figuring how best to obey the road rules

As I wait for this natty red roadster

To figure out what the fuck it’s doing.

Whatever you do, mad little bag lady,

Don’t act the Tarot card you resemble,

Fool and his knapsack. We don’t hunch,

Not like it was when I was teenaged

And all chin and shoulders, Quasimodo’ing

My invisible way across danger and out of it.

No no. Be a man. Stick out your shoulders,

Pretend those tits are pecs, pecs, dammit,

Muscular motherfucking Hercules

In a leather cuirass, pumped up with steroids

Till he looks like Page Three.

Stand with your hips wide, too, let them see

The nothingness that is somethingness,

At least in your mind’s eye, down in

The trouser parts. Oh he’s gonna notice you,

Dressed like Ronald McDonald and Santa’s

Crazed delinquent love child, sack of boots

Slung and ready to deal out Krampus style

Thrashings on his bumper if he doesn’t.

And what if the trick fails? What if he sees

Right through your motley and goes, hey,

Wait, this isn’t Loki trying on new names,

It’s just some bitch trying to out-butch me;

Well what then. We wait, as we always wait,

To let the fools pass us, till we can carry on

With slow steps, towards a place where

We can let down all our burdens.



she jumps in like the last line of a haiku

felling every stroke of wheat before her

that I had painted so carefully across my landscape

swift as the wind from the mountain

that dervishes hot and dry in the streets

playing with leaves like she plays with my heart

clumsily but with such panache

that I forgive her and will do so

each time spring rolls round

she knocks

like the rhombic edge of my knee

against the underside of the chessboard

dashing all the squares from their places

with one impetuous diagonal

she is forked lightning when she flashes

one nipple at me in the middle of the railway station

while a hundred backpackers

heap up their prayers in soft cairns

she winks in and out of view

like one side of a spinning penny

heads she loves me tails she’s gone

a world away

she flicks me on my edge and sets me spinning

spinning and shining

Onion Lady

Onion Lady 

Each evening we’d negotiate

An electric peace

While pacing green corridors

Following the colour coded stripes

Long as wagging tongues.

At some point a switch would flip

Tipping a nine volt contact

Ionic bonds tasting sweet and sharp

Like lemon chicken sauce

Licked up from the bottom of the plate.

You are better the second time around

Laying out your yellow flanks so tender

Battered, buttery before my blue foothills.

Snap frozen moments sit in the chiller

Ready for my phone raised in prayer.

Its glossy black monolith

Oblongs for kisses that sink

To the bottom of the Leith

Along with discarded shopping trolleys.

Paper picnic plates, wide and white

Cover each of my floating eyes.

Follow my story downstream.

Look up at the river in the sky

Open to past and present alike

An eclectic piece

Played in electric blue.

Open and closed

Open and closed

Close your bag, he says.

Anyone could just reach in while you are sleeping

On the train and take things

While your eyes are closed:

Your phone, your books, your wallet.

When you sit on the train you fall open

Like an abandoned bag.

Your knees are spread and your lap is wide open

Like your mouth when you sleep,

And like your mouth it sings an invisible song.

Your bag breathes in and out with every

Unconscious tiny movement of your stomach.

The bag on your lap lies open to strangers.

You leave yourself open to theft.

You’ve been overseas. Don’t you know better?

I can’t help it, my darling.

My whole world is an open bag.

My morning commute runs along one half

Of the great zip delineating its mouth.

Nature and geology has turned

My house into an opening.

Deep inside it, anyone can reach

With inquisitive hands

And find knowledge or wealth or connections.

I have travelled, yes. If I ever feel homesick

All I have to do is put my bag down,

Expand the opening till it makes an O

And step into that singing shape.

I will let the topography of my bag enfold me,

Mouth open, eyes closed.



walking the thin line through the columbarium

imagine that you see me and take me down

from a dusty niche

funerary urns

hold the dry ash

ash goes in and is never meant to come out


hold the thin oil

grown stale from waiting at the graveside

I’d like to ask you a favour

shape me

but not like this

make me something less ceremonial

more practical

your wet fingers

describe the line from my waist up over my shoulder

in an unbroken curve

forming me from red clay

spin me

with each excited motion of your right foot

driving the treadle

I will turn to face you and then away

and then to face you again

as I change day to day

showing you new faces

delicate white with a long nose

or the gorgon at my breast

let us try to make sense of this vessel

so easy to break and ready to hold so much

as you release the large handles for carrying

and take hold of the slender handle for pouring

rest me in your lap

not on a table or the floor

keep me close

keep safe the contents

that you have filled me with


sweet water

coursing from me

that’s it, wipe my cheeks