I’ve become the walking man at midnight,
meandering streets in spectral silence,
slow steps to pace a racing heart.
Count the trees, count the doors,
count the cars,

Sometimes, I cross your path, familiar fox.
You pause, one hesitant foot, head turned,
ears up, and then you smooth and slink
yourself into the dark.
It swallows you whole.
Count the stars.

The fog is thick, clouding golden lampposts
in capsuled breath, blurred fireflies,
muting their electrical buzz
resisting death.
Count the lampposts.

I hope for a fresh encounter. Not the fox
or late drunken straggler, but a giant,
whose grace I could meet on the streets
in soft, gigantic peace,

a behemoth of modest pride, metre strides,
polite in presence to soothe a mind,
to mend a heart of glass,
fractured and warped.

If you would kindly point me in the right direction,
if you would kindly tell me which way I should be going,
I’d feel a lot better,
and maybe that will stop me walking at midnight.

This poem is the product of the midnight walks I took during the darker years of having anxiety, to the dozens of nights when it stirred. I lost a lot of sleep to it.


The Stare

Two creeping canal boats
inch towards each other
in a morning mist.

One carries old women, celebrating silence
and tranquility, dabbed in sun cream,
nestled in white, plastic chairs
tucked to a table garnished
with a spotty teapot and ginger snaps.
No one has spoken since sunrise.

The other chugs Mad Lads in fluorescent t-shirts,
wacky head pieces, synchronised in an alcohol
sway, belching as they go. Their new faces
bright and clean and taut, badly burnt
on broad shoulders. Smoke billows
from their lips, trailing a wealthy
blend of lager and cannabis.

The boats meet each other at a reptilian pace.
The bows approach, the hulls close to a kiss.

The boys pour inside for breakfast
but an elderly gaze captures one.
He stares back, traces the wrinkly contours
of her pallid face, her bundled grey hair
thinned to the scalp.

The music and motor dissipate
in the moment they’re closest.

She clutches the tiller with a frail hand,
her finger weighed by a golden band,
and she shouts as loud as she can
with her sunken eyes

Hold onto it.
Hold onto it for dear life.
Don’t let it go.

Forgive The Boy

Bless the boy who flees the house
with a leash and nameless collar
to catch the raining cats and dogs.

Excuse the boy who retaliates
with a thump when told to break a leg
as he worries and sweats in the wing.

Pardon the boy who shouts to horses,
spooking them back to stables,
because he heard it came from their mouth.

Forgive the boy who wondered the magic
when the girl down the road disappeared
on her way home and was never seen again.


Need advice on how
to handle those days?

Take note from
the great city umbrellas.

Despite being angrily
stuffed into bins, the torn

canopy webs, split stretchers,
and rusted ribs elbowed out,

each is an act of mighty
stubborn refuse:

they deny the fit, and resist
an end not made for it.

Do You Remember Our Fires?

Do you remember our fires?

The days we set fields alight,
fed embers to forests,
sent cities to smoulder,

how sweet kindling whispered
to each hungry blaze,
bloomed to flames of fervour?

Do you remember those days?

It’s February. Powdered snow
settles to thickness overnight,
sedates country, suburbs, all alike.

Time is young, ruthless,
and before you know it,
you’re snowed in,

digging for the ashes beneath.
Your smarting hands against the cold.


It’s as if it’s their first time.
Coupled in the house lights,
centre stage, stood in view of all,

dwarfed by the sweating Belgian beer
advertised behind, the rise of music
drowning their hushed voices further.

Which row is theirs? Which seats?
They look to the screen, to their tickets,
but can’t place themselves amongst

the young, their phone-lit faces,
who cross their feet on the seats
in front and give them no notice.

There’s tender nervousness, caution.
She takes a step to the row before
and he stops her, confused, unsure.

Suddenly they’re the feature: a lost pair,
timidly holding their salted popcorn,
their melting milk chocolates,

who’ve nowhere to sit,
who can’t find their place
amid the sea of certainty

of kids, of teens, of adolescence.
They know all of life –
– and at the same time, none of it.