Strawberry, vanilla, double chocolate chip: “one scoop or two?“, she asked.

Hair tied back and apron strapped tight. White T shirt and a smile that matched the sunshine. Sneakers for comfort against the long days and fleece to cut the chill. Upstream from the coffee sellers and merch stand: perched on the corner of West 16th and 10. Raised upon the old tracks: ice cream on the Highline.

Battered Dell laptop bag around his neck sported cardboard sign: “Shakespeare monologues $3“.

Converse worn thin at the crease and baggy canvas pants. Blue coat zipped up to hipster beard and rounded off with a black beanie. Shy glances and a constant half smile.

“Hear my soul speak: the very instant that i saw you, did my heart fly to your service”

The line snaked back from the cart: visitors from out of town, tourists with umbrellas, friends gossiping loudly and a girl intently staring into her phone. For each, the same questions: “one scoop or two“, but the smile served to each a little less radiant than the glances served in secret.

“Love, whose month is ever May, spied a blossom passing fair, playing in the wanton air”

The blossom is out in Central Park: clings thickly to branches and settled around the head of a girl reading her book. Down here, downtown, less blossom, more noise, the old track beds now maturing well, sending up daffodils and taking on an air of permanence, a quiet dignity.

This place was lost, reclaimed by nature but now reclaimed again as solitude and space for lovers: unrequited or intense.

“Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known”

One scoop or two?


Light. Soft edges. Beams through blackness.
Blue tones. Strobed harshly. Deep buzz.
Bass rumbles. Crowd ripples, arm outstretched.
Empty plastic, cup falls.Light pulses, choral voices.
Floor sticky.
Light beams, blue tones. Soft edges. Haze.
Pure sound, cuts sharp.
Feeling swells. Bass pounds.
Heads nod. Heat rises, light dims.
Sound pulses, bass rumbles.
Blue haze, phones shine. Crowd lifts, feeling.

Fat Cat

FatCat sat by the fire
Preening, serene in
the top spot, dreaming.
Of mice.

FatCat banker: BMW clad
For the rest, just

FatCat like Top Cat
but fat.
And not top.

FatCat dreading
the rhyme with Mat.
A FatCat called Matt.
Sat. Listening intently.

FatCat dieting.
A cat on a diet?
Be quiet!

FatCat in the snow:
then walking muddy paws
on floors
before curling up and carefully pressing
their coldest extremity on your tummy.

FatCat chewed up the mat.
FatCat chewed up the mouse.
And the iPad cable next to it.

FatCat what should i do now
when my battery goes fl

Slow clink of rigging by the waters edge.
The lights wink over from the town.

The fisherman caught bass.
Best fishing for weeks, he said.

Lived in four acres of wood he said.
Bought with his dads bequest.

Out of jail but four kids.
Used an eight ton digger to clear a patch.

Four kids and a caravan.
In and out of trouble he said.

I don’t know what an eight ton digger is,
But I nod, entranced.

How old was he?
Forty one he said.

The dog sat patiently waiting for treats.
Alert, hoping for fish.

The dog end, soggy and desperate hung from a lip.
Repeatedly he kept trying to spark it into life.

“coffee and whiskey” he offered.
No, I replied.

“good coffee” he said and I smiled.
Sorry, time for my bed.

“Good times come few and far between”
We’re his parting words with a callused honest handshake.

And I pondered that as I walked up the hill,
Smiling still.

If: a short word.
One syllable.
Change starts with If.
If only everyone were as lucky as us.

We have.

Intent: sharp and intense.
Two syllables.
Starting slowly, driven by vision.
Words spread, nurtured by many.

Even though.

Divided: broken, apart.
Three syllables.
Distance divides, but ideas have wings.
Ideas unify. Crossing seas and dogma.


Equality: just a word.
Four syllables.
Quality, of opportunity, for everyone.
Liberating and rewarding.


Opportunity: five syllables.
A word shared.
The ability not to be helped, but to help yourself.
Coming together.

We have.

Responsibility: six syllables.
To each other, to ourselves.
Choices to look inward or look out.
Choices to make things change.

This poem is inspired by the work of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the work they do in providing mentoring opportunities across the globe.

Hazy morning.

Last year I visited New York. Working.
Took the train into the city.

First glimpse of the skyline across the water,
Tethered with bridges,
Familiar yet new.

Disorientation, momentarily.

There’s a skyscraper built of brick.
A giant faceless wall, elegant but unexpected.
I don’t know, maybe it’s not a skyscraper, but just a tower block?

I settle in, disguised as one of the locals behind my coffee.
Walking through Time Square, the UN, piers and joggers.

I saw the Highline and Greenwich Village, caught a cab from Downtown.
Never made it into Central Park, but it’s a big place.

Rocking on the train this morning, through the haze.
English woodlands slipping past.
Memories of the city as I sip my coffee.

I think i saw a white stag, down by the tree line.
Or maybe it was a silver birch.

‘Is dhow a word’? asked the Englishman. ‘Yes, dear, we went in one in Arabia’.

Two couples bicker. One a maths teacher. ‘No, it’s indian‘.

What’s a G worth?’

So, if i do that, it’s “fog” and “two”, which is thirteen‘.

The argument builds slowly: it’s been like this for a while now. ‘Ta’ is accepted, but ‘dink’ falls by the wayside.

Slow evening.

G&T and a good book. The boat’s pitching. The ice clinking.

Then, a rustle of excitement as the sky comes to life.

Someone has seen the Lights. Rush for gloves, sweater and cameras.

Crashing out of the heavy doors. Polar air in a cold blast.

Is that a cloud? It’s not like in the books you know. hmmm.

Murky, blurred. Streams of light reaching out, not crisp, but blended.

You know when that kid spilt the tin of paint at B&Q.Right down the aisle. Well it’s like that.But magnolia, or maybe apple white. Not blue like then.

It’s slow, looks like it’s pitching, but it’s the boat.

Suddenly, two shooting stars burn across the sky.

And back again… ah, it’s two gulls, lit by the running lights. Easy mistake to make.

Getting cold now. Is it polite to leave early? The light dances awhile, then starts to fade.

Use a longer exposure‘. ‘Brian at the photography club said this is right‘.

That chap said enjoy it with your heart‘ whines a lone voice.

Brian at the photography club said to do it like this‘.

‘Shut up Roy’.

The day the Dyson died

My hoover don’t manoeuvre.

It sucks but doesn’t go.

A faulty wheel I feel.


The day the Dyson died.


Mistletoe grows where bark is scratched, torn. Worn.

Parasitic, insistent.

Stark and forlorn in the branches and sticks.

Rain or snow, slowly grows where bark is torn and scratched.


Mystic, patient. Winter in darkness, the icy wind pricks.

Fire crackles, hiss, glows. Mistletoe fetched from the woods.


Ancient, cryptic. Watching the hearth as the hungry flame licks.


He wakes every morning at six. Regular as clockwork, inflexible as stone.

He lives alone

The dog needs walking. It’s pacing by the back door. Back and forth. Back and forth.

His hand shakes as he holds the kettle under the tap, the force of water causing it to sway. Side to side. Side to side till the water froths over the top. Damn it. His hand shakes as he clatters it onto the hob.

Nearly out of matches again.

Hiss of gas then a whoosh and a roar as the flame catches and flares. Sizzle and pop as the water on the outside of the kettle steams off.

Hiss and roar and the noise of the dog scratching the door. Nearly out of matches again, must get some more. His hand shakes and he drops the nearly empty box onto the floor.

Damn it. His hand shakes again.

The crust of the bread splinters and falls as he hacks through it. Breathing deeply. In and  out, back and forth with the knife. Deep breaths as the blade hits the wood of the board. Crumbs fall to the floor unheeded to join the dried food drifting to the cracks.

Nearly out of bread now. He shakes his head, breathing deeply.

Lights the grill with another match and slides the bread under. There’s a smell of gas and burnt match that catches at the back of his throat.

He rinses the cracked mug under the tap. The glaze is all cracked. It’s crazed and ingrained with stains.

One teabag from the box. One spoon of sugar from the bag. Splash of milk from the carton.

Nearly out of milk dammit. He breathes heavily as the milk goes back in the fridge.

The dog whines and paces, scratches the door and whines.

One grey ear droops whilst the other is alert.

One eye is greyed with cataract, the other alert.

The kettle whistles feebly and he snatches at the knob to stifle the gas. Trembling he pulls the kettle towards him, water sloping with a hiss onto the hot metal of the cooker. Pours the water into the mug. The kettle goes back to the hob with a hollow boing as it catches on the metal of the ring.

The dog is panting as it paces, back and forth, agitated, half blind, half deaf. He pulls the mug towards him, agitated and out of breath.

The dog pauses and stares at him. He stares at the dog. The corner of his mouth twitches up. Half a smile of recognition. This morning, every morning. Wonder which of us’ll go first?

Dozy bastard thinks the dog. That toasts burning.