Mynedd y Dref

Thrash through head-high ferns,

avoid straggles of bramble,
flick scats of midges from neck
and shins. Measure steepness
in chest ache and catch of breath.

         A view climbs with you:
vast crescent of sandbanks,
beige caravan dominoes,
sea – a thin watery line.

When your blood pulses slower,
find scuffed footmarks, lean
into stone-dust path. Climb,
knees near your chin, grab at rocks
for leverage. Breath now
a prize to grasp.

         Last push, wind-buffeted,
past a young mountain ash, up
to the rock outcrop summit.

You are full now
                          with heart thud,
and sheep bleat, harsh yap of ravens,
scent of warm heather and furze.
Breathe Carneddau and seascape,
these purple-crowned hills,
meander of estuary.

Darryl at 11

published in The North 2014


Like an avalanche-in-waiting,
spindrift – he is jittery,
always on the brink.
His lips, a thin line sucked in,
fingers twiddle and drum
as ice overhangs split and shatter –
now he is thunderous snow
he is empty and wild –
the lunge precise
at Wayne’s neck and throat.


A hush post-avalanche,
the whiteness of anger tires him.
He yanks his baseball cap,
covers his eyes, replies to the question
he said me Mam was a slag.
Tugging his yellow hair,
he picks the cut round his eye.

Black Fish

Published in Dream Catcher

Tissington clock showing four forty-five.

Duck pond, weeded, shows thick, still water.

Closer, go closer – swarms of black fish
slow-haunt the shallows. Through green, woolly

tendrils, long black fish slide, sway-rhyming,
sway-gliding along, cigar bodies glistening.

Slow curl of top fin, stately they turn,
spawning dimples and riddles mid-water.

Eyes flick, surface-tickling flies are snapped,
then back to swim-dozing, swim-laze again.

These dawdling moments, black holy prizes,
turning ever our bright lives around.

St Peter’s Field August 1819

8 a.m. ‘A beautiful morning.’

Manchester chimneys belch no smoke,
all machine clatter silent.

10.30 they’re coming ––
from Middleton, Stockport,
Salford, Oldham:
northern people, ‘Liberty or Death.’
Marching, singing,
bands and banners,
flags and caps and white gowns.

12 p.m. at St Peter’s Field
cheers and shouts,
japes and laughter;
‘a vast concourse of people
in a close and compact mass.’

Now they are coming,
soldiers are coming,
horses are running,
Yeomanry charge.
Thrust and spear,
stab and kill.

Moans, cries,
groans, yells.

Caps and bonnets,
shawls, coats, shoes,
all strewn and scattered
on St Peter’s Field.

By mid afternoon
the ‘mob’ dispersed.
Sabres are wiped clean,
St Peter’s Field
‘an open, almost deserted space.’

Liberty. ‘Liberty or Death.’

England: Identity Crisis Summer 2011

Published in Best of Manchester Poets 2013


is this the right queue
for the PlayStation3 riots?