The Monster Munches

Sat in his car, his jaw
Gyrates like a camel mouth;
Lips, wobble around their orbit
Some distant star, pulling;
Meteors of corn-snack crumbs
Whizz through space.
His lap, the fetid remains of
Big Bang Meal Deals
Mildewed monthly remnants
Revealing the past
Like mouldy litter-strewn tree rings;
He surveyed his solar system –
A passive aggressive deity
Passing judgement
On all mortal life.

The dog, outside,
Sniffed the car door hopefully –
Opportunistic, no doubt
For pork pie jelly bits,
Or sausage roll scraps,
Or a dreamy cheese triangle,
Discarded; oblivious
To the Omnipotent God-head
Bedecked in drapes of finest Hi-Viz,
Appraising us haughtily,
Through finger-smeared
Window glass.

He looked at me, sneering
In snack-fuelled superiority
Silver-foil mouth spewing pink puffs
Of extruded plasti-food;
His dusty orifice mindlessly fed
Calorie-rich emptiness
From bratwurst fingers.

If only we were worthy –
Sharing his majesty;
Eating at his high table;
Destined for those Hallowed Halls
Where only those who die
At the hands of deep-fried
Live an infernal life.


Sloshing through the chalk stream
Barefooted; clear waters run shallow
Flint barbs glint; these sward-sharp cobbles
Washed clean of sand; crows circle above
The white cups of crowfoot below.

Where Lower Byrom meets Great John,
Flaked tarmac, shredded by spinning rubber,
Lanc rain and the soles of endless souls,
Reveal sparking setts, peaking once more
At the grey northern sun.

Up on the Needwood plateau,
Long roads, straight as a rule-edge
Dip and climb through ancient forest shards
The Enclosure-roads are tired now
Old granite pavers smile out, remembering

On the posh estate, behind pig-iron gates
Fantails, peacocking like on Continental plazas
Spring forth; not for us, this fancy-dandy –
Spouting like a soda stream –
Just a snicket, toed-in and true.

On the Square though, are the real thing
Fished from streams; dug from fields
Where once the glaciers flowed –
Glassy in the rain, glossy in the dry;
Twisting ankles on their rounded backs.


The light is dimming now –
The sun tearing away
To our dark side; its diurnal doppler,
Just as the ambulance sirens
Scream to nothingness
Down the dual-carriageway

It is then, as our glitterball
Starts its twinkling
That a pack of dancers
Leap into a Quickstep –
Light of foot, gracefully
Tip-tapping through the branches

Bumbarrel, Pudneypoke,
Prinpriddle, Huggen-Muffin –
A tuppence-weighted
Zebra stripe, flashes airily
Waiting for the moment
To shimmy, to feed, to hang

Dog Tail, Long Prod,
Poke Pudding, Feather Poke –
Vortexing whispers
A crowd’s chittering laughter
As the evening warmth
Passes through them

Bottle Bird, Bottle-tit
Bottle Builder, Barrel Tom –
Squeezed together
For shared communion
In a feathered beer jug
Web-built, moss-walled

Nimble Tailor, French Pie,
Oven Bird, Miller’s Thumb –
Huddled in hedgerows
Careening through heaths
The jitterbugging Hedge-Jug –
A long-tailed social network



Gentle valleys, severed from the sea
By the pebble bank
Prominent, like a runner’s spine
Skim-stones at one end
Door chocks, the other;
Going nowhere, yet doomed
Just the same
By the sea roar
Its washes, swashes and crashes –
Its tickles, caresses and claws –
This unrequited love,
Only stopping when the Moon goes
Is silent, distracted,
For that briefest moment.

To the north, the reeds sway like concert-goers
Cylindrical heads, swooning like lighters
In rhythmical hands;
To the south, the fresh water
Skimmed by the breeze,
Wears fluttering white wings –
Wavelets dance like Chiffchaffs or warblers
Hoovering up insects whilst out
For their late evening supper.

On one side of the Ley, gentility & calm
On the other, menace, lurking


The house was one of those that survived.
Years past, most of the village had gone
Washed away, lost, swept up
A besom broom of water and energy and grit
Cast off into the salt-pan of jetsam
And untethered cargo
Right at the street end.
Now the nor’easterly pounded in
The walls shook up from the foundations
Jurassic Park writ real
Our water and wine turned choppy
No salvation it seemed
From the insistent rumble
Incapable of being unheard;
The windows spattered with brine
The walls peppered with shingle
The unending wind
Wailed and whistled ghoulishly
Through seaweed-smeared chimney pots
Kelp flung like phoney confetti –
Dogs wore a sideways parting
Owners sported brackish bangs
As they pushed through the car wash
And brushed with the drink;
Seagulls surfed breaker tops
Before banking to vertical
And shrieking desperately as sodden chips
Mushy pea pots and batter crumbs
Went howling down the road – lost
The upended bin nudged by the sea wall
That gyrated, then giggled, then cried
In ecstasy and agony
At such unwanted attention


From our place, the road meanders
River-wards; an oil-slicked snake
Glinting with glass slivers
Under that damned gun-metal sky,
Rock pools of tyre shards
Broken mud flaps, bent hub caps
Go unmoved by any tide.

The land is drowning;
Struggling to lift its head above the flow;
Gasping for air from grass-sward
To tractor-turned till,
It pleads for mercy –
But the waterboarding goes on;
No quarter. No end.

The river runs bank-full;
Soils super-saturated,
Skies soddenly sopping
Triple width, fast flowing
Fields become lakes –
Hillocks become islets –
Kettle holes, an ossuary.

When will it end?
The road now a causeway.
When will it end?
The bridge now a lifeline.
When will it end?
The spirit now eroded…
A barrage, unflinching, resolute.


A golden-threaded arrowhead
Progresses purposefully, advancing –
A clamourous goose skein,
Pulled by its invisible cord, forwards
Forwards; loping; up
And drop, up and drop,
Steady drum beats
Holding them fast in time and space;
Their ancient puppet-master
Corralling an insistent momentum.

A drone-eyed view,
Hovering above and within them
Would see with their eyes –
See their perspective, the
Long waves of magnetic road
Converging on distant horizons
Glowing in their mind-eye –
An addictive ferric aurora.

They can see, yet not see
A far-off tundra-edge
Raked by rasping breath
Off glistening ice mountains;
Behind, a temporal arc
From spring meadows –
The azure promise long gone,
And memories, fading memories,
Beaten into new futures
By honking wings,
Punching their eddies;
Thumping concealed vortices
In crystal clear air;
On, on, unerring.

Corners of Fecundity

Sharp up by the dog-tired
Londis; wedged-in
By funky Biffa Bins
And that flaking breeze-block wall;
Jammed and jimmied in behind
Broken fence slats, mossy with
Creosote, is a fructuous lee;
A wind-shadow –
A ghost-less liminal nook –
Where the spirits can’t be arsed;
Where gaze falls,
Yet just sees
The lottery scratch-cards
And deals on chilled Monster.
Yet, for all this, it is

A corner of fecundity;
Here, a strange loam builds –
Fuelled by unloved chaff;
The part-gnawed crusts, damp
Of a once-mighty Ginsters;
Sleazy scalenes of a BLT half;
No B, just T, these days,
Squalid off-cuts of
This and that,
Tumbled to the floor, indelicately
Cobbed, from a rattling Fiesta –
To settle with Batter bits,
Gum wrappers, Stella cans
From yesteryear, jewels
Of chipped bottle glass,
And meaty faggots of wind-rolled leaves.

In this ill-favoured sod, where
Biodiversity meets perversity,
Time acts patiently, un-judging;
Allied by micro-beasts –
That chomp, and puke and fart –
To make this urban grow-bag,
Where, mulched by half-chewed
Kebab barf, *those* iceberg shreds
And a hospitable crack
At the wall base, up rises –
Nourished by chilli sauce
And malodorous Mango cola –
A juvenile ash, racing for the sun
Past the Biffas and soffits and such –
Levering the mortar and breeze blocks
Apart; bent on earning an ASBO.


Ever since I took the name
‘Magpie’, for this
Thing, here,
I’ve been seeing them
Everywhere; saluting them;
Asking of their families;
And their darling children –
No, just continuing
A long line; a tradition,
Of stuff and nonsense.

Still, the magpie
Took on a persona –
Mercurial; mystical;
Imbued with powers
From the Earth, or
Magnetic fields;
Or limbic energies,
Spiritual fluxes
From other worlds;
Realms beyond our knowing…

…And all that.
Until, that was,
Out on my bike
I must have
Disturbed one of them,
Them perishers,
That black & white flash, stalling;
Ramming on his emergency brakes;
Skidding to a halt in front of me
Tyre marks, mid-air;
He was speeding, for sure.
And darting back, guiltily
Into the shadowed blackthorn.

You’ve dropped your bag
I mouthed, as the leather
Satchel thing, whatever –
Dropped from his mouth.
But no; it was a baby chick
A blue tit; neck bent
Backwards; closed eyes
Skewiff; all over the shop
Its little legs.
Butchered, by Mr Magpie.
Harvested, for his wife;
Dinner, for his children.

And yet, all I could hear
All I could think of,
At the moment of this crime
Was Chris Packham’s
Snorting, orgasmic laughs –
It is the nature of things

And with it, spirit energies
Dissolved, met a reality
Head on.


Head down, dog padding
Through scruffy undergrowth;
Soft soundings, nose alert,
Attentive to the inattentive,
Smooth yet probing darts
Weaving around and between:
Stumble hazard, on leads
Or upended turfs;
Thistle humps,
Or last year’s potato-crater.

The field is fallow now,
Tides of weeds have washed it,
Swashed with dandelions and bugloss
Chickweed and willowherb
The florally malignant
Scent of Roundup absent here
The only metastasis
Is wildness… and how…
How it has returned.

Blown from the high fells,
In a few short months
The skylark has made his commute
Dancing on the vortices
Plummeting and soaring
Grabbing the air with fanatical flapping
Twittering and chittering
Warning me, warding me
Away from unseen homes.

In this scruffy sward,
Abutting the gravel mine,
Scarred by habitation,
Criss-crossed by heedless joggers,
The dock and the skylarks,
Horsetail and lapwings
Signal a retreat of sorts,
And the return
Of an ancient civilisation.