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[I’ve been looking again at old poems, which is not something I tend to do. I try to keep writing, to look forward at what is ahead, not behind. The past comes out in the new poems or pieces of writing anyway. Looking back, unless I were to pick some poems out for a reading or a book, seems a bit like wallowing in mud. Nevertheless, for no reason, I have looked back and felt the need to pull older poems out and see how they look now. Why these three? No reason. They mean no more or less than the others.]


Before you ask, yes, we can reverse.
And we can dance – on the spin, on the turn.
It’s not a trick, not weird or perverse.
It’s just in us, we don’t have to learn.

We buy our berets from Jacques’ mum
But I make the coats myself. Proud of that.
Proper fleece, not just any old tat.

Jean-Luc, on the far left, with the soft hands.
He’s no shepherd. On the dense side of dumb.
You can see he’s too tense, just not the type.
He’s here because his dad owns the land.

By the way I’m the one with the clay pipe
And the neckerchief that looks like a mask.
A gift from a shepherdess. Don’t ask.


The thirsty people pay
and crowd to watch, but
for now the trick is in
the drama, in the measure

of the stride, the heavy
dance of the methodical
tread, and in the way
water rises at full moon

to break the boundaries
of grief. My reward is in
coins, a place to rest,
quiet nods of respect.

Sometimes, too, after dark
women will seek me out
for more elusive miracles.
But that is not my craft.


all these years on
i sit by the moving statues again
with a cardboard mug of coffee
from a shop that mostly sells cigars

i’m back with the statues of the gods that tell
the same mechanised story of love, death and betrayal
on the hour every hour

they knew i’d be back, they’ve been waiting

a man helps his wife to sit on the far end of the stone seat
shuffles in beside her, says
we’ve missed the show but let’s sit a while

and the people walk in and out of shops
and in again and out again
and the small fountains go on being fountains
and the lights in the ceiling change colour slowly
to emulate the passing of night into day
day into night

boy, it’s hot, says the man to his wife,
rubs his face with the sleeve of his shirt
and we know it may not be sweat on
his forehead
but the days
the weeks
the years
pouring out of all of us
as we come back time after time
to sit like this
and wait for the gods to begin again
with the same old stories
the same old moves

(Caesars Palace in Las Vegas does not carry an apostrophe.)


2 thoughts on “THREE OLDER POEMS

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