My father's hands, persistent and precise, made engine parts for nuclear submarines; micrometered my hair. Quoting the size in metric and imperial, machine he was; a Garw wizard born from rock.
Did magic with times tables. Worked out pi from first principles. Spent his weekends stuck under old cars. The genius loci of Cotteridge. Like he'd been welded here. Until some swarf got in between the cogs and wrenched his bevelled brain right out of gear.
He was my Dad, whose awful Latin tags diamond etched my mind 'nil carborundum' of whom, 'sic transit gloria mundi'. -
First published in
NPS Sixty: Nottingham Poetry Society Celebrate 60 Years of Poetry (2001) Selected by Amanda Dalton
A 'found poem' created from two-word kennings coaxed out of visitors to the Donington le Heath 'Apple Day' 19th October 2014
Published in Coalville Community Eye, issue 31 November 2014
Bog-burials unearthed at Watermead
Slip-swallowed ancient kin upon
a journey, womb-wards, to be
grounded, swamp-reed rotted
She slipped you
like an egg in isinglass.
Peat-pickled by the river bed,
some precious child, hag-pocketed,
you slept, my papyraceous twin,
as thousand upon thousand babes
were born, gave birth, grew old and died.
Dumb-sightless seer, I kneel
to seek your gaze. The thin boned well
is pit-preserved by smoke and stone;
the remnants that we piece and part
uncertain of their provenance.
This poem formed part of a ritual at Charnwood Museum Leicestershire to respect the finding of two ancient skulls, one Neolithic and one Bronze Age in Watermead Country Park, Leicestershire.
The lake in which the skulls were found is known as King Lear's lake and may have been sacred to the Celtic god Llyr. For more details see here.
Rachel, my stepdaughter, challenged me to put all the words listed in the magazine New Scientist's Feedback column as Psion's alternatives to a 'full stop' into a poem which explained the link between them.
This I attempted to do, in exactly 100 words!
The linking words are nearly all derived from Roget's thesaurus' suggestions for 'full stop', 'period' and 'punctuation'.
Elizabeth, the harpy, Hades V.I.P
Jabs a Xerox copy of some spotty Yellow Pages,
Greets a Marxist crook, remarks
'Well Save Our Souls! It's hot as tar!
And still no W.C.'
He, with dashed ellipsis adds
'T.V's a Dutch oven. Nothing on.
Romeo M.P.'s in Lilliputian rows.
'A "Yankee", don't you mean? queries the Queen.
'That's not my period.'
Satan, joining, adds in Machiavellian accents grave
'Mine's Homo Sapiens, whose hopes derive
I hyphen commonality.
I am the word finder; extremes
Relate with logicality.
'All words are at a meeting point,
At Einstein's singularity.'
Published New Scientist August 7, 1999 no 2198 letters (website)
Visiting my Father
Does he believe I came? He used to smile,
quick, like a lighthouse, waving boats away
Stranded now on rubber rippled shore,
hallucinating faces on the wall,
Who is it comes? The nurse with diamorph,
dispensing dreams. I saw his mother once
transparently tubercular. This place
must ache with ghosts. I thought he heard her laugh
and smiled. A newborn baby's gappy smile
unfolding in a mother's eye. Who knows?
Soothing his yellow cot, the sunlight flows
between a certain window and the wall.
Nurse, do not let the light fall on his face.
Skin so thin could tear beneath its weight.
Winner Nottingham Poetry Society Winter Competition 2000/2001