In the wasting crowds who cross here,
who tumble from jets with silenced engines,
who stumble from their coffin seats,
are humbled by their stiffened limbs
after sleep that has eluded them;
from films that have stretched minds
into plasticine indifference. Who cross
the bridges to more waiting lines, more
flights, more places to unwittingly infect.

I seek a daughter who has travelled far
and only can expect the smiles, the hugs,
the way-to-go high-fives. Dubai. A moon
stop in the desert. Life does not go on –
goes through, in all its forms, its
stations for prayerfulness and lavish
chrono watches, latest phones.

Pass by us are the face-masked ghosts
from China, escaping a phage that we
are as yet unaware. Which hunts and
kills. They sit in silence. Hoping to escape,
avoid the airborne threat we others are.
Or which spreads about their land.
Soon these halls will empty. Ghosts
flown to do their work, to hunker down.

April 2020

Merchant & Commander








Venice. Another Shakespeare town. Shares
with Denmark and Verona the Distinction of a title,
of place that draws in character and soul.

Coigns of theatre and surprise hiding dark
corners, alleys with secrets, doors that rarely
open or admit the truth – contriving scenes
of perfect unity for art, for sightlines on a stage.

So here we stop to think of who we are,
which scene we enter, which line upon our lips.
Do we leap into a boat to exit slow?
Or stand upon a bridge delivering, to rousing

clash of swords? We may wait beneath
a balcony for jealousy to come, or princess
to reveal through nimble tongue her heart.

Oh, place of missing argosies and clever girls –
of handkerchiefs and arch deceivers! Taste justice hidden
in the eaves, or carried over barely moving waters.

Love Among the Traintracks

In the crush hall we embrace. Between a brilliant
cutting in O-O [three tracks, 2 running trains –
a lengthy Goods and full length LMS Express,
11 coaches in correctly aged maroon!]
and a well stocked stall of boxed and pre-owned
Triangs, Hornbies, Backmans, we take our chance.

It’s a good show for layout lovers, which we are.
Not sure where it’s going – a main line terminus?
or maybe it’s a tunnel we are in? Twin tracks
curve to vanish beneath a castle on a hill
[hours in wire mesh, papier mache,
handcut walls, paint-matched, acrylic]

We’ll build our own together. We’ve walked
the dale where it all stood. I’ve made the plans,
Stacked crates of track, locos, trucks,
accessories. Track Double O P4
but narrow gauge – and featured, stone by stone,
in card, the line of cottages, now ruins,
stepped down the slope. No people now,
but windows, glazing emptiness within.
A gradient our locos will manage fine,
and frame-lit cameras will cover all the points.
Tools will grace the trackside. Ore will gather
to be loaded. Figures will stoop to tasks.
Sheep will safely graze. With training,
she will run the trains as well. Others build
amazing worlds where track would never run,
bring together treasuries of detail, with trawlers,
buses, whole harbours served by 0-4-0s,
Shunters, charabancs from Penge. We gaze
open-mouthed, will build our own as good. Will seal it
with another kiss in front of Pooley’s Trains.