extract from ‘Conix – a story for grown up children’

Tall Tales
When Amy Winehouse died, Conix was distraught with grief. ‘I was with her a few days ago, and she seemed fine.’

This was typical of him. Making out he’d been anywhere of importance when news broke. When questioned about how he could have possibly been with her, he looked up from his tears in disbelief as if to say How dare you not believe me! And then very calmly said: I went to Camden Town last week on a uni trip.

Everyone got used to Conix’s tall tales. And went along with them. They were so far and few between that his tall tales actually became entertaining as he added more and more unlikely details to what had happened.

No one ever believed him even when he was telling the truth.


Greeting cormorants as I kayak past
I make seagull noises not knowing theirs.
They look at me with distain
wary of this weird paddling thing that stares.

They nest on the rock face
under a white moon and a pink sky.
Fish fleet-jump up in a sea-skimming race
that they do in seconds as they fly.

The sea as heavy as oil wells up.
At least, it feels like it does. But it’s pure sea.
Seagulls vie with cormorants
but it’s the dark birds that claim victory.


Not for Nothing

I’m unpacking the bags from under my eyes
And had a good night’s sleep, thank you.
I hardly ever used to remember my dreams
But, now and again, now I do.

I’ve not always had my best interests at heart.
I often wonder whether I ever knew.
Not learnt lessons by saying sorry quite a few times
Even though I was told early on not to.

I can be a bit harsh on myself
But then let myself off the hook.
Throw myself back into my moon river
Dipping into an Audrey Hepburn photo book.

Just bought a couple of books actually.
One by a photographer with my same birthday.
And the other with pictures of species near extinction.
Not for nothing do I have nothing to say.

Day of disappointments

The birds are back in the square
and my flat cat would love to attack for a dare
as they swoop from the skies to the tree.
But he’d find it nigh on impossible to be fair
to make any kind of capture or kill in his lair
even if out on the streets. No chance of doing his devilry.

The birds are starlings.
The poor dear darlings.
Mediterranean magpies on rooftops watch
and crank it up a notch
for my flat cat that would love to try
taking them on too but he’d probably come off worse and die?

I’m on my balcony quite serene
with a bottle of white watching the scene.
The chances of murder as slim as my cat’s
though in my head there’s imminent attacks.

For example, this very day and the washing
machine technician who didn’t bother to come.
You kept me waiting despite the frigging
appointment for four hours, son.
I’ve been without a washing machine three weeks.
It’s under guarantee and, but for hand washing, my clothes would reek.

Meanwhile, the birds are making a racket in the tree.
My flat cat has gone to sleep off his disappointment in dismay.
And I’m left having to chase up that technician between a rhyme like third degree or foul play.

Zippy Chorgle’s End

All olly-topped, the zippy freebed
With ogles in its chack
And then it tuttered by the worg
And orped beneath the clap.

Now, unbescotting to our ploff
A camanoogle hocks.
It’s piffing round the floofy jicks
And blonking round the sox.

And oh alas! It poops the zip
And timpers like a moosh
As meanwhile unbejugging pocks
The zip beneath the woosh.

The camanoogle corky licks
It’s pishy pallerclotts
And then it gammerpangs the zip
And flots its waller off.

And so no more the zippy blogs
And no more shall it gliff
Because the camanoogle plonks
With zippy in its wiff.

From Liqueur to Lace

Had worn her heart on a sleeve.
Had hid it when she’d had to grieve.
She’d cried for much less since
for every unworthy prince.

A moat of tears had flooded her moat.
Her draw-bridge had buckled under the messages she’d wrote.
One winter morn, the snow had settled, and lay
where she would a following summer’s day.

America loomed large, as Ireland became a speck
in the distance, and on deck.
She drank to the emerald isle
and fell asleep with a smile.

A grandmother she would be
over years and years, over that sea.
It may last for just a minute, or at its own pace
but if it’s the latter, fairy-tale tellers will veer from liqueur to lace.


The parents hug their children
While their children cry

As on the ship out of port
‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.’

Grow up to be a good girl
And look after the little man.

And as she says those words
She lets go her little hand.

At the thought of that, she thinks her thoughts.
Years later, she lets go a sigh.
As a ship comes into port.
‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.’


After bottles, vases and jars
Off they go to get smashed in pubs, discos and bars.
“If you blow it, that’s it, you see”
Confided one glass-blower.

The factory carried on
but survival wouldn’t be long.
Redundancies got higher
as productivity got lower.

Laid off workers sank
to the bottom of their bosses’ aquarium tank.
They cut it so fine
their once diamond vessel turned into a shipwreck that had lost its shine.

1899 Visionary

Finally, what was there from its beginnings was clearer.
How the coldness had been hidden behind an hysterically hyped up veneer.
A scientist opportunist conning peers.
A philanthropist grave-digger snatching moneyed sneers.

I’m not going to judge lest I be judged.
I’m not going to hold a grudge lest they begrudge.
Nor march to the next century to just trudge.
Nor pose for a still frame where to budge
Might mean blurring a Victorian image into muddy Georgian sludge.